Bolivia asks US to extradite former president for genocide trial

November 12th, 2008 - 6:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 12 (IANS) Bolivia has asked the US to extradite a former president and two ministers in his 2002-2003 administration to face genocide charges, EFE reported Wednesday.”We have officially delivered the letters requesting the extradition of former president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, his defence minister Carlos Sanchez Berzain and energy minister Jorge Berindoague,” Charges d’Affaires at the Bolivian Embassy here, Erika Dueñas, said Tuesday.

Bolivia’s Congress in October 2004 authorized a trial of Lozada and his two ministers and in September 2007 the Supreme Court ordered the foreign ministry to request the former president’s extradition from the United States.

Lozada, who had previously been president from 1993-1997, resigned amid unrest Oct 17, 2003, and fled to the United States.

The former president and the two former ministers face genocide charges for the death of 63 people during an uprising by coca growers, unionists and peasant farmers that erupted over his plans to export natural gas to the United States and Mexico via Chilean ports. He also faces charges on eight other counts.

Howard Gutman, Sanchez de Lozada’s attorney, said in a statement that the extradition request “is part of a political offensive orchestrated by Evo Morales against democracy and those he considers his political enemies.”

Morales, an Aymara Indian, socialist and former coca growers’ leader, was among those who spearheaded the 2003 protests against the natural gas export plans.

US State Department representatives said they did not know long the US government would require to study Bolivia’s request, Dueñas said.

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