SUCRE, BOLIVIA – The Bolivian Supreme Court on Monday ordered the arrest of six members of the 2002-2003 government of Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada to face trial for the deaths of 63 protesters at the hands of security forces in October 2003.
The six former Cabinet ministers are in Peru, the United States and Spain and the court order authorizes the Bolivian Attorney General’s Office to request their extradition.
Angel Irusta, head of the panel of judges set up for the trial of Sanchez de Lozada and some of his aides, announced his decision after beginning the hearing to determine who bears responsibility for the “Black October” killings.
The court later adjourned because a defense attorney filed a motion asking that all of the trial judges be replaced.
Only eight of the 17 people accused in the case were present for Monday’s session in Sucre, the old colonial capital that is the seat of Bolivia’s Supreme Court.
Irusta declared the missing accused parties to be in contempt of court and ordered the capture of former ministers Jorge Torres Obleas, Mirtha Quevedo and Javier Torres Goitia, who have received asylum or are considered refugees in Peru.
The court will also issue arrest warrant for Guido Añez Moscoso, who lives in the United States, and Hugo Carvajal, who, according to preliminary information provided by prosecutors, is in Spain pursuing a request for asylum.
The court also ordered the arrest of former Minister Yerko Kukoc, whose whereabouts are unknown.
Attending the hearing were several ex-ministers, including Adalberto Kuajara, Dante Pino and Erick Reyes Villa, as well as five former armed forces commanders who directed the military repression operations in 2003.
For the accused who were declared to be in contempt – eight ex-ministers and Sanchez de Lozada – the statue of limitations will be suspended until they can be brought back to Bolivia.
The October 2003 protests forced Sanchez de Lozada from office and he currently lives in the United States.
A leader of those demonstrations, Evo Morales, went on to be elected president in December 2005. EFE