Former Ecuadorean President Lucio Gutierrez finds asylum in Colombia

Colombia on Tuesday granted political asylum to former Ecuadorean President Lucio Gutierrez, who says he faces treason charges in his homeland, a Colombian official said Tuesday.

Gutierrez, ousted from office in April amid street protests and demonstrations, came to Bogota on Sept. 21 from the Peruvian capital of Lima where he had been living in exile.

Along with the former president, Colombia also granted asylum to Gutierrez's brother, a former Ecuadorean military general and a businessman, a foreign ministry spokesman said on condition of anonymity in accordance with ministry policy. The official did not specify the names of the other three Ecuadoreans granted asylum.

Gutierrez was forced from office by Congress on April 20, five days after he disbanded the country's Supreme Court and declared a state of emergency, sparking massive street protests. Congress appointed Alfredo Palacio, the elected vice president, to finish Gutierrez's four-year term, which ends in January 2007. AM

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