After two unsuccessful attempts marked by adjourned or shortened hearings, the trial for non-respect of the Constitution against Jeanine Añez, ex-interim president of Bolivia (November 2019-November 2020), opened on Monday April 4. Weakened, suffering from high blood pressure, the 54-year-old ex-senator attended her trial – which is taking place remotely – from the women’s prison in Miraflores, a district in the center of La Paz, the administrative capital, where she has been held in preventive detention since March 13, 2021. Outside, dozens of people demonstrated, carrying signs “Neither forget nor forgive” in memory of the victims of two massacres that took place during his short mandate.
The previous week, after defense lawyers raised a series of procedural irregularities and following an anxiety attack by Mme Añez, the sitting had been suspended. This time, she resumed, but little information has leaked out. The journalists, although duly accredited, were prevented from attending the hearing.
Jeanine Añez is being prosecuted for “decisions contrary to the Constitution” and “dereliction of duty”, when she was still vice-president of the Senate. For the first time, justice must examine the alleged irregular acts, committed on November 12, 2019 when she declared herself head of state, following a power vacuum caused by the cascading resignations of President Evo Morales and his constitutional successors: the Vice-President, the President of the Senate and the President of the Chamber of Deputies.
Mr. Morales had resigned two days earlier, amid violence and after intense mobilizations denouncing an alleged fraudulent election after his contested re-election for a fourth term. Several contradictory reports have been published since, and if the fraud has not been proven, it has not been ruled out either. A police mutiny and the “suggestion” from the armed forces to resign had precipitated his departure, then his exile from the country. A sequence called ” Rebellion “ by the supporters of Evo Morales and by the current government, led by his successor, Luis Arce.
Five former military officers are also appearing in this trial, as well as a former police commander; four of them are on the run. Even before the start of the trial, two other officers had pleaded guilty to “complicity in the crime of dereliction of duty” in order to benefit from an accelerated procedure and to protect their families, according to the statements of their relatives, an offense for which they were sentenced to a three-year prison term on 18 February.
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