PERSECUTION

Ola Bini case adjourned; defense claims Ecuadorian judge in breach of law

Swedish activist’s lawyers argue that judge presiding over the case failed to comply with the law for denying him bail

Leia em português | São Paulo

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Swedish digital activist was held in temporary detention in Ecuador for 70 days before being granted habeas corpus relief on Jun. 20 / Cristina Vega/AFP

The case of the digital activist Ola Bini, who was arrested in April at an airport in Ecuador and held for seventy days in preventive detention before being granted habeas corpus relief, saw new developments as his defense lawyers filed malfeasance charges against the judge presiding over the case.

Bini's defense is accusing judge Yadira Proaño of disregarding legal standards after she denied Ola Bini bail on May 29 and included a new individual in the case last Tuesday, adjourning the case.

Carlos Soria, one of Bini’s lawyers, argued that the judge could not have denied him bail in the first place, because the bail petition they filed met every requirement of Ecuadorian law.

The country’s penal code establishes four reasons for which a detainee could not be granted release on bail: in case of crimes against minors, people with disabilities, or the elderly; crimes with a prison sentence longer than 5 years; when the accused has been previously released on bail and violated the conditions; and in cases of intra-family violence. The charges brought against Bini do not fall under any of these categories.

The defense claims that the judge did not comply with the law and therefore should be charged with malfeasance based on article 268 of the country’s penal code, which characterizes malfeasance as a crime committed by a judge when he or she “acts against the law, doing what it bans or failing to do something it requires.”

The case

Ola Bini was granted habeas corpus relief on Jun. 20 after being held for more than two months in preventive detention without charges, even though the crime he is accused of has not been proved to have happened.

The digital activist’s lawyers argue that, by granting him habeas corpus relief, “the court acknowledges that the rights of the Swedish citizen were violated,” as Soria stated when he filed charges against judge Proaño.

Bini has to comply with a preliminary injunction and appear before the Federal Attorney General’s Office every Friday since Jun. 21. The court also barred him from leaving the country.

The Ecuadorian president, Lenín Moreno, claims the software developer was arrested for an alleged “plan to destabilize the president” and “hacker attacks,” but the accusation has consistently failed to demonstrate his alleged interference in Ecuadorian computer systems.

Edition: Pedro Ribeiro Nogueira | Translated by Aline Scátola