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Ecuador defends storming of Mexican Embassy in case brought to top UN court

Ecuador defended its actions in storming the Mexican Embassy in Quito last month. This move came after Mexico granted asylum to former Vice President Jorge Glas.

Ecuador on Wednesday defended its storming of the Mexican Embassy in Quito last month, telling judges at the United Nations' top court that it acted to take in "a common criminal" — Ecuador's former vice president — who was holed up inside the diplomatic post.

The statement by lawyers for Ecuador was part of hearings in a case filed by Mexico at the International Court of Justice that accuses Quito of blatantly violating international treaties by storming the embassy to arrest former Vice President Jorge Glas.

The April 5 raid, hours after Mexico granted asylum to Glas, further fueled tensions that had been brewing between the two countries since the former vice president, a convicted criminal and fugitive, took refuge at the embassy in December.


Leaders across Latin America condemned the raid as a violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

"Mexico, for months misused its diplomatic premises in Quito to shelter a common criminal" who had been convicted twice of corruption and other offenses, the leader of Ecuador's legal team at the International Court of Justice, Andres Teran Parral, told judges on Tuesday.

In its case filed April 11, Mexico asked the court to award reparation and suspend Ecuador from the United Nations. It also asked judges to take "appropriate and immediate steps to provide full protection and security of diplomatic premises" and prevent any further intrusions.

"There are lines in international law which should not be crossed. Regrettably, the Republic of Ecuador has crossed them," Alejandro Celorio Alcantara, legal adviser for Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, told the court Tuesday.

But Ecuador argued Wednesday that the ICJ doesn't need to act now because Quito has already complied with the measures sought by Mexico.

"This hearing is unnecessary and unjustified because Ecuador has already provided assurances of its own volition, both to Mexico and to this court, that it will respect and protect the premises of Mexico" and other diplomatic property, Teran Parral said.

Another lawyer for Ecuador, Sean Murphy, said Mexico had made no attempt to negotiate a settlement to the dispute between them — one of the preconditions for the court to impose interim orders.

"By any measure .. there was no genuine attempt at negotiations," Murphy said.

Judges will likely take weeks to reach a decision on Mexico's request for preliminary orders.

On the eve of two days of courtroom hearings this week, Ecuador also filed a case accusing Mexico of using its embassy to "shield Mr. Glas from enforcement by Ecuador of its criminal law" and arguing that the actions "constituted, among other things, a blatant misuse of the premises of a diplomatic mission."

It asked the ICJ to rule that Mexico’s actions breached a number of international conventions. No date was immediately set for hearings in the case filed by Ecuador.

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