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  HOME | Bolivia

Police Detain Aunt and Lawyer of Morales Ex-Girlfriend on Trafficking Charge

LA PAZ - The Bolivian police have arrested two people tied to a scandal involving President Evo Morales.

An aunt and a lawyer of Gabriela Zapata, the former girlfriend of Morales, were arrested after the government accused them of trafficking and trying to pass off a child as the son of Morales.

Pilar Guzman Campanini and the lawyer Eduardo Arancibia Leon were arrested yesterday in La Paz on orders from the public prosecutor, who also directed the arrest of lawyers Willy Sanchez Pena and Walter Zuleta Buitrago.

The four, along with Zapata, are accused of human trafficking and deception and conspiracy, states the arrest warrant published by local media.

President Morales's attorney, Gaston Velazquez, presented on Monday a denunciation against Zapata to the police, his lawyers and his aunt for participating in alleged human trafficking and smuggling activities.

The denunciation seeks to clarify who it was that she presented in court claiming that he was the son of Morales.

On Monday, the state attorney Hector Arce, accused Zapata and her lawyers of engaging in human trafficking and using minors in their attempt to prove the existence of the child that the woman had in 2007 with the president.

The official said the ruling given last week by the judge Jacqueline Rada who ruled the "proven physical absence of the child" after investigating the case due to a demand from Morales against Zapata to force her to present the child if he was actually alive.

According to Arce, the judgment indicates that pictures "of four different children" were presented, therefore, in his opinion, "it constitutes trafficking and use of minors which are very serious, defined and punishable offenses under the Criminal Code."

Zapata is currently in custody accused of alleged economic crimes and her name became prominent in the media following a complaint of alleged influence peddling by Morales toward the Chinese company CAMCE, where she worked and obtained multi-million dollar contracts with the state.

The complaint was made by journalist Carlos Valverde, who on Monday claimed to have new information indicating that the child never existed.

The president had previously acknowledged that he had a son with Zapata in 2007, but said he died of illness shortly after birth, which Zapata contradicted by stating that the child was alive.

The confusion about the child grew when some ministers claimed that the president legally recognized the child and even helped with medical care, while others said he did not exist.

Zapata also noted that it is a "lie" that she has told Morales that the child died and said the president should have told "the truth to his ministers and his lawyers so that they can defend him."

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