The arrest of the judge who was to settle the situation of the main defendants, including a former minister, of a notorious corruption case in Bolivia for the alleged overpricing of respirators purchased in Spain, led to the suspension for the second time of the hearing of the accused .
“The judge is missing. He would have had a judicial problem and talks are being held with the presidency (of the court) so that the judge’s situation can be resolved,” the prosecutor in the case, Rudy Terrazas, told the media.
The precautionary hearing against former Health Minister Marcelo Navajas and four other defendants, several of them for their alleged participation in the contracting process for the purchase of respirators in Spain, was due to take place at 16:00 local time (20:00 GMT) in peace.
Navajas arrived at the court with a mask that covered his face and with custody of a couple of policemen, who prevented the siege of journalists and television cameras.
In a manuscript that was shown to journalists, Judge Hugo Huacani described that he was arrested “when he tried to enter the Pink Room of the Departmental Court of Justice”, where the hearing was due to take place, which had already been suspended last Thursday.
The magistrate indicated that he was detained “without any warrant of arrest” and without “prior summons with no complaint,” according to the text that was also broadcast on social networks.
The judge’s arrest was due to a process of course prevarication or arbitrary resolutions in the judicial exercise, according to what was revealed.
For the deputy Franklin Flores of the Movement to Socialism (MAS) of Evo Morales, the arrest of the judge should have been “after the hearing”, knowing the urgency of the process.
This week the alleged price of ventilators and respirators for patients with Spanish-made coronaviruses came to light, when the manufacturer firm revealed that each unit had cost between 10,000 to 11,000 dollars and not the more than 27,000 that was said in Bolivia to be its value.
The equipment was financed with a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and its purchase was questioned after some medical associations declared that they were not suitable for intensive care patients, only for emergencies.
The event became one of the strongest corruption scandals for the interim government of President Jeanine Áñez, before which she promised to investigate and recover the money from the State.