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Ecuador's suspended vice president, Jorge Glas (pictured), was sentenced to six years in jail for his involvement in the Odebrecht bribery scandal after a court found him guilty of illicit association along with other seven defendants, which included his uncle, Ricardo Rivera.
The judge also ruled that the group must pay nearly US$34mn to the Ecuadorian state, according to a press release from the prosecutor's office.
The court found that the group colluded to obtain economic benefits from five strategic projects, namely:
The prosecutors also asked the judges to investigate Glas for alleged graft, asset laundering, unlawful enrichment and bribery.
Glas, who also served as vice president under former president Rafael Correa, was suspended from his functions back in August by current president Lenin Moreno after audio recordings were released claiming Glas asked Odebrecht for bribes in exchange for public works contracts.
Correa has been highly critical of the process against his former vice president and after the conviction was issued he told CNN that Glas is a "political prisoner" and that now "they'll surely come for me now." Glas' lawyer Eduardo Franco told journalists that he will appeal the sentence, which he described as "iniquitous and barbarous", local daily El Universo reported.
Glas is now the highest ranking politician in Latin America to be sentenced in the ongoing investigations into the dealings of Odebrecht, which has admitted paying up to US$33mn in bribes to public officials in Ecuador.
Odebrecht has been involved in some of Ecuador's largest infrastructure projects, including power plants, highways, gas pipelines and the Quito metro.