Bolivia charges ex-President Anez with ‘genocide’ over death of protesters in 2019
Bolivia’s former interim president, Jeanine Anez, has been charged with genocide and other crimes over the deaths of 20 people who protested the ousting of the country’s longtime socialist leader, Evo Morales, in 2019.
The charges against Anez, who seized power in the Latin American nation for a year, have been “provisionally classified as genocide, serious and minor injury, and injury followed by death,” Attorney General Juan Lanchipa announced on Friday.
According to Bolivian law, the ex-president could face 10 to 20 years in prison if found guilty.
The accusations relate to two rallies in the town of Sacaba near the central Bolivian city of Cochabamba and the town of Senkata in the El Alto area outside the capital, La Paz in November 2019, in which 20 demonstrators were killed and dozens more injured in clashes with security forces.
Earlier this week, a report commissioned by the Organization of American States (OAS) described those events as massacres.
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Five independent human rights experts from across Latin America ruled that the military and police, which Anez sent to curb the protests, likely acted with intent to kill as live fire had been employed against pro-Morales demonstrators, “even when people were running away.” This means that their deaths could be considered “summary executions,” the report said.
The OAS report said the interim government came to power by overstepping the constitution and persecuted its opponents with “systematic torture.”
It also called for the “racist violence perpetrated against Indigenous people, including Indigenous women who were especially attacked in this period,” to be recognized and those responsible to be held accountable.
Working-class indigenous Bolivians have always made up the core of Morales’ supporters, with opponents of the leftist leader mainly being middle-class residents of major cities of mixed European and indigenous origin.
The Supreme Court of Justice now needs approval from a two-thirds majority in the Bolivian congress for the case against Anez to go to trial. Lanchipa urged the court to file the relevant request to the MPs as soon as possible.
Anez came to power after longtime leader Evo Morales resigned and was forced into exile after the Bolivian security forces sided with his opponents in the wake of a violent uprising. Demonstrations had been triggered by accusations of election fraud that later turned out to be largely baseless.
Her new conservative government harshly suppressed the counterprotests of Morales supporters, going as far as giving the military temporary immunity from prosecution over its actions during the rallies.
The unrest saw at least 37 killed across Bolivia and hundreds injured in 2019. There were scuffles between rival demonstrators, but most of the deaths were caused by police.
Despite suppressing dissent, Anez was never able to garner enough public support and withdrew from the 2020 election after polls showed that Luis Arce from Morales’ Movement for Socialism (MAS) was in the lead.
After becoming president, Arce insisted that Anez and her allies staged a coup in the country and vowed to bring them to justice.
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Anez was arrested this March on accusations of sedition, terrorism, and conspiracy, and has been held in pre-trail detention since then. The 54-year-old denied any wrongdoing and accused the new authorities of “abuse and political persecution.”
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Source:RT World News