Ecuador high court sentences in absentia former president to 12 years in jail

Ecuador's Supreme Court has sentenced in absentia former President Jamil Mahuad to 12 years in prison for misappropriating public funds during the country's late 1990s banking crisis.

In its ruling the court said that it had settled on a severe punishment because the consequences of Mahuad's crimes are still hurting Ecuadorean depositors. The ruling can be appealed.

Mahuad has argued that the long-running case against him is political persecution because of the unpopular decisions he took as president to combat hyperinflation. The measures included freezing deposits and replacing Ecuador's sucre with the U.S. dollar.

Mahuad fled his homeland during a 2000 coup and has taught at Harvard University since settling in the United States.