Crime & Justice

Bolivia issues warrant for ex-president Áñez, arrests 2 of her ministers

La Paz, Mar 12 (efe-epa).- Bolivian authorities on Friday arrested two former interim ministers and issued an arrest warrant against former interim president Jeanine Áñez as part of a probe into the alleged 2019 coup against Evo Morales.

Arrest warrants were also issued against former officials, and military and police officers.

Prosecutors issued warrants against Áñez and former ministers of her government: Arturo Murillo (minister of government), Yerko Núñez (minister of presidency), Fernando López (defense), Álvaro Guzmán (energy) and Álvaro Coímbra (justice), with the latter two arrested in the city of Trinidad on Friday.

Since Friday evening, police officers and prosecutors have been stationed outside Áñez’s residence in Trinidad, situated in the Amazonian province of Beni, to proceed with the arrest, although the former president’s whereabouts were unknown.

Late into the night, local media outlets reported that the police entered Áñez’s house by breaking the door and apparently seized multiple documents.

The arrest warrants come after December 2020 when Lidia Patty, a former lawmaker of the ruling Movement for Socialism (MAS), filed a complaint against opposition leader Luis Fernando Camacho, his father José Luis Camacho and former commanders of the armed forces and Bolivian police.

From Trinidad airport, the former interim justice minister and energy minister under Áñez were taken Friday night to El Alto airport in La Paz in a Bolivian Air Force plane.

The former officials were taken under heavy police guard to the facilities of the forensic research institute and later to the public prosecutors’ office, where their statements were to be recorded.

Guzmán said at the airport that the arrest amounted to “harassment and kidnapping” and that it took him by surprise as he had not been notified of the judicial process.

The former chief of staff of the armed forces, Flavio Arce, voluntarily surrendered before the authorities and on Friday was sent to preventive custody for six months in San Pedro prison in La Paz.

On Thursday, prosecutors also issued arrest warrants against the former commander-in-chief of the Bolivian armed forces, Williams Kaliman, and other former top military officers, along with former police chief Yuri Calderón.

There was tension at Coímbra’s residence during his arrest as well as at the house of Núñez’s mother – where the police arrived but failed to find him – with family members complaining of excessive use of force.

Even at the heavily guarded Trinidad airport, scuffles were witnessed between officers and family members of the former ministers being taken to La Paz.

Áñez, who wrote about the arrest warrants against her and members of her cabinet on her social media accounts, warned that “political persecution had begun.”

Other sections of the Bolivian opposition also criticized the “process of persecution” by the MAS government, and accused Evo Morales and the government of President Luis Arce of acting like “tyrants.” EFE-EPA

lnm/ia/tw

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