Former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa moved to Belgium after leaving office in 2017—and a court judgment Tuesday makes it unlikely that he will soon return to his homeland, let alone return to politics. A court found Correa, first elected in 2007, guilty of corruption and sentenced him to eight years in prison, the AP reports. Correa can appeal the judgment, but he will face arrest if he goes back to Ecuador, reports the New York Times. Prosecutors said Correa and 19 other politicians and business leaders, including former vice president Jorge Glas, accepted $8 million in bribes for public contracts as part of a "structure of corruption."
Correa will have two chances to appeal the ruling, but if it becomes final, the former left-wing ruler will be barred from holding office, reports Bloomberg; the Times notes he had spoke of a potential 2021 run. The National Court of Ecuador also gave eight-year sentences, the maximum allowed, to another 17 defendants, with two who pleaded guilty receiving reduced sentences. Interpol has refused to arrest the 57-year-old Correa, who has called the charges a political "witch hunt." After Tuesday's verdict, he tweeted that the court had ignored the lessons of history. "With this persecution they hurt in the short term!" he said. "But in the long run they only make us invincible. They will not be able to change the course of history." (Read more Rafael Correa stories.)