Crime & Justice

Former interim president of Bolivia handed 10-year prison term

La Paz, Jun 10 (EFE).- Bolivia’s former interim president Jeanine Áñez was on Friday sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of dereliction of duty and taking decisions contrary to the constitution, dating back to 2019 when she took charge amid a social and political crisis.

After deliberating for more than eight hours, a court in La Paz held that Áñez would serve her sentence in the Miraflores prison, where she has been held for over a year.

Áñez had taken charge as the interim president of the country on Nov. 12, 2019 as the second vice president of the Senate, two days after former president Evo Morales and all other officials in line to succeed him as president resigned en-masse amid a political and social crisis that arose after the October 2019 elections, amid allegations of electoral fraud in favor of Morales.

The court also handed a 10-year prison term to the former commander of the Bolivian armed forces, Williams Kaliman, and former police chief Yuri Calderon, although the whereabouts of both the former officers are unknown.

On Friday morning, the judges visited the prison to record Áñez’s final statement, and later repeated the process at the jail where two former military chiefs accused of helping her seize power are being held.

Áñez attended the trial online from the prison, as the authorities first insisted on this as a preventive measure due to the Covid-19 pandemic and later argued that she was a flight risk, despite the defense repeatedly asking for an in-person trial.

“It was not an easy government because I was in charge. I never had the power, things were blocked in the legislative assembly, which means that it was simply a transition government,” Anez said in her statement.

The former leader insisted that she did not have the ambition to become president and merely fulfilled her duty, claiming that the only one aiming to capture power had been Morales, who “did not respect the constitution” since 2016, when he ignored the results of a referendum that had rejected his plans for a fourth consecutive term in office.

Throughout the trial, Áñez complained of various health problems, although the prosecution alleged that these were tactics to delay the trial.

Áñez was arrested on Mar. 13, 2021 in an operation led by Bolivian police chief Jhonny Aguilera in her native city of Beni, and later taken to La Paz in a military plane.

She was first charged with crimes related to terrorism, sedition and conspiracy over an alleged coup after she replaced Morales in November 2019 when he fled the country amid widespread protests against his re-election.

Later, the case was turned into the so-called “Coup II” trial, in which she was sentenced on Friday. EFE


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