By Alexandra Valencia
QUITO (Reuters) - An Ecuadorian court sentenced former president Rafael Correa on Tuesday to eight years in prison after finding him guilty of corruption charges.
Correa, who was in office from 2007 to 2017, left Ecuador three years ago and now lives in Belgium. He and 19 others, including his vice president who is in prison for another corruption case, were accused of accepting $7.5 million in bribes in exchange for public contracts to finance his party's electoral campaigns between 2012 and 2016.
The court also banned Correa from participating in politics for 25 years.
The prosecution accused Correa of heading a "criminal structure" and asked for the maximum sentence.
The former leader has denied the prosecution's accusations, saying they are a political attack by current President Lenin Moreno, who Correa initially backed in 2017.
"Well, this is what they were looking for: using justice to achieve what they never could at the ballot box. I am fine. I am concerned about my colleagues," Correa said on his Twitter account.
His defense told Reuters it will appeal the court's ruling.
(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Sarah Kinosian; Editing by David Gregorio)