A controversial judicial process for terrorism that lasted for eleven years in Bolivia was closed on Tuesday with the acquittal of those who were still prosecuted, including opponents of Evo Morales and the military who captured “Che” Guevara in 1967 in the country.
“The court today resolves to extinguish the case and declare 33 citizens acquitted of all charges” who were still prosecuted, Gary Prado Arauz, a lawyer for several of the defendants, told Efe, including his father, Gary Prado Salmón, a retired military officer who was who captured the revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara in Bolivia.
MORE THAN A DECADE IN COURTS
The decision of the court of the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz, to which some of the exculpates reacted in tears, occurred among other circumstances after the Prosecutor’s Office and the interim Government of Bolivia withdrew the accusations in a process dating back to 2009 .
The transitional government announced last month that it was withdrawing from the process considering that there was a “false accusation” by the former Evo Morales Executive, to carry out a “political persecution” of opposition leaders in the eastern region of Santa Cruz.
The Prosecutor General of the State of Bolivia on Tuesday withdrew its accusation, based on its part to a series of legal arguments.
The lawyer described the acquittal as a “triumph of justice over the political manipulation of the Government of Evo Morales.”
“This case had no reason to exist, there was no relationship between the defendants and the criminal act. There was no such sinister plan of separation from Bolivia, of defenestrating the Government of Evo Morales, of armed uprising or terrorism that was accused.” he asserted.
Prado added that “all of that was a fable created by the Government (of Morales) to persecute people who had them as political objectives and achieved it.”
A CASE SURROUNDED BY POLEMIC
The “terrorism case” broke out on April 16, 2009, when a police command carried out an operation in a hotel in Santa Cruz that resulted in three dead foreigners and two detainees accused of being part of a terrorist cell that allegedly intended to secede from the region of Cruzña and attempt against Morales.
In 2015, after undergoing an abbreviated process, Croatian-Bolivian Mario Tadic and Hungarian Elöd Tóásó were sentenced to five years and ten months in prison each for armed uprising against state security for secessionist purposes.
As they had already served their sentence, they left Bolivia claiming they feared for their safety and sued the State before international organizations for crimes against humanity.
The prosecutor who was in charge of the case, Marcelo Soza, requested in March 2014 in Brazil political refuge, after resigning to continue investigating.
Once in Brazil, Soza denounced that the case had irregularities and said that he was fleeing Bolivia considering that his life was in danger, although the Morales Government denounced that he was involved in acts of corruption in judicial cases.
The lawyer recalled that six other defendants, including Tadic and Tóásó, who pleaded guilty, now with this sentence they can go to an extraordinary review of sentence, to declare them acquitted to them as well.
The defendants always denounced that the case was due to political reasons, to silence opponents of the cross-border region, among them relevant businessmen, who could face Morales, and even several versions during the investigation questioned whether the shooting at the hotel was an antiterrorist action.