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.
About 3,000 'economic migrants' wait on Greek border as Macedonia restrict entry to refugees from warzones only
European Council President Donald Tusk says top priority is to protect bloc's external borders
Tight security surrounds Pope Francis' visit to conflict-hit country
Jeremy Corbyn says UK government has no 'follow-up' plan for Syria but opposition Labour Party remains divided
Various polls show Spaniards divided if the country should join bombing ISIL
Earlier Berlin offered France Tornado reconnaissance jets, a naval frigate, aerial refuelling and satellite images in the fight against the ISIL group
Pentagon says Russia does not share flight information with U.S.-led coaliton in Syria
Two UN peacekeepers and two civilians died in ambush claimed by Ansar-ud Din insurgents
Turkish Embassy calls on Russian authorities to cease targeting Turkish citizens
Protestors across UK call on government not to repeat 'mistake' of Iraq war
Activists urge South African government to reduce carbon emissions ahead of COP21 in Paris
Sanctions include ban on Turkish goods and suspension of visa-free regime for Turkish nationals
The army in Macedonia has begun erecting a metal fence on Saturday on the country's southern border with Greece
Kenyan police have accused two Iranian trained suspects of planning attacks on schools and foreigners in Nairobi
Israel has been using Dutch dogs to terrorize Palestinian civilians - including children - and have been exporting them from the Netherlands for the past 20 years.