San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
International fugitive

Panama arrests fugitive Ecuadorean ex-lawmaker

PANAMA CITY – Police in Panama on Monday arrested a fugitive former opposition lawmaker from Ecuador who is wanted in his homeland for complicity to murder.

Tito Galo Lara Yépez was taken into custody in the province of Veraguas, police spokeswoman Mara Rivera told AFP. She declined to provide more details.

Galo Lara was convicted in 2013 in Ecuador of complicity in the murder of a couple and their 4-year-old child and sentenced to 10 years in prison. His girlfriend was deemed the mastermind of the crime.

He subsequently fled to Panama, where he was given asylum on the basis of claims he was a victim of political persecution.

On May 19, however, Panama revoked the asylum protection after Ecuadorean authorities provided it with documents containing “new elements that give full assurance of the existence of crimes,” the Foreign Ministry said at the time.

The 46-year-old former lawmaker of the Patriotic Society Party disappeared, however, until his arrest on Monday.

In reversing its decision, Panama argued that “constitutional guarantees” existed in Ecuador to guarantee Galo Lara a fair trial back home.

Panamanian authorities also pointed to attacks against Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa and other officials on Galo Lara’s Twitter account, saying such activity was banned for political refugees.

The revocation of asylum coincided with a visit to Panama last month by Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino.

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