World Bulletin/News Desk
Washington has refused to extradite a former Bolivian president to the South American country to stand trial over political violence that forced him from office nine years ago, President Evo Morales said on Friday.
Former leader Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada is accused of corruption and responsibility for the deaths of 63 people killed in clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters in October 2003.
"Yesterday (Thursday), a document arrived from the United States, rejecting the extradition of people who have done a lot of damage to Bolivia," leftist Morales, an outspoken critic of U.S. foreign policy in Latin America, said in a speech.
Calling the United States a "paradise of impunity" and a "refuge for criminals," Morales said Washington turned down the extradition request on the grounds that a civilian leader cannot be tried for crimes committed by the military.
Sanchez de Lozada, a U.S.-educated mining magnate who embraced free-market policies, quit during the bloodshed of 2003 and fled to the United States 13 months into his second term as president of the impoverished Andean country.
Bolivia's demands for the extradition of Sanchez de Lozada and several of his ministers have aggravated prickly relations between Washington and La Paz.
The countries agreed to normalize diplomatic relations late last year but new ambassadors have yet to take their posts.
Morales, a former coca farmer who has reversed the privatizations pursued by Sanchez de Lozada, expelled the U.S. ambassador and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents in 2008, accusing them of plotting with his rightist enemies.
Washington responded by sending Bolivia's ambassador home soon afterward.
Sanchez de Lozada's extradition was also demanded by opposition leaders in Bolivia and they criticized the U.S. decision.
Rogelio Mayta, a lawyer representing victims of the 2003 violence, said "the U.S. protection" of Sanchez de Lozada was not surprising.
"It's yet another display of the U.S. government's double moral standard," he said.
Two former government ministers and three former military officers who did not flee Bolivia have been convicted over the bloodshed and sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.
It did not identify the target of the civil action, which coincides with criminal inquiries into suspected fraud underway in Belgium and the Netherlands.
The continent’s population displacement reaches record levels in 2017, says UN report
Incident increases concerns about flow of contraband in French prisons
Ibrahimjon Asparov stands accused of supplying firearms, ammunition to Istanbul nightclub attacker
The 63-year-old leader, in power for nearly 12 years, also said she hoped to appoint equal numbers of male and female ministers from her conservative party if she wins a fourth term, though she could not speak for possible coalition partners.
Terror group continues to target Iraqi forces – especially Shia Hashd al-Shaabi – in northern Saladin province
Death toll may rise further after suicide bombers target car parking lot in northeast Borno state
"The worst has been avoided," Tsipras said after flying over the disaster zone northeast of Athens by helicopter, adding that about 3,700 acres (1,500 hectares) of forest and scrubland had been ravaged.
London Southend Airport remains open despite images showing thick, black smoke
Human rights campaigners urge US government to be 'vigilant' on incitement after deadly rally violence
Ankara demands to know whether Adil Oksuz, wanted over 2016 defeated coup attempt, is in Germany
'We cannot sit on a council for a president who tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism,' say AFL-CIO representatives
Aid donated by humanitarian group for children in drought-stricken nation
Regional security, Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam to top agenda of talks, Sudanese FM says
Grace Mugabe fails to appear after reportedly turning self into police to face assault charges