Ecuador's Constitutional Court gave lawmakers authority to start proceedings aimed at dismissing Vice President Jorge Glas -- in prison for graft -- from office. The court's judges gave unanimous backing to the National Assembly to go ahead with the procedure.
Its verdict follows a referral from the National Assembly last weekend. The next step is for a panel of lawmakers to decide whether to send the matter to the full National Assembly for a vote, which would strip the vice presidency from Glas.
Glas, however, is already on track to lose his office on January 2 in any case, when he will have been absent from his functions for the three months stipulated in the constitution.
He was put in preventive custody on October 2 and was sentenced last week to six years in prison for receiving US$13.5 million in illegal kickbacks from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.
Odebrecht has admitted to paying millions of dollars in bribes to officials in several Latin American countries to secure inflated public works contracts. It has agreed to pay US$2.6 billion in fines to the US, Swiss and Brazilian governments over the wrongdoing. The Odebrecht scandal has rocked several administrations.