Bolivian ex-president Anez convicted of orchestrating coup d’état



A Bolivian court on Friday found former President Jeanine Anez guilty of orchestrating a coup that brought her to power amid a 2019 political crisis.

She was sentenced to 10 years in prison. A former military commander and ex-police general were also convicted.

Anez, 54, was convicted of making “constitutional decisions” and “dereliction of duty”.

The prosecutor said Anez, then a right-wing senator, violated the norms guaranteeing constitutional and democratic order after Bolivia’s 2019 presidential election.

Anez’s defense said it would call on international bodies to seek justice, and several sectors of the opposition planned marches to protest the ruling.

Bolivia is divided over whether a coup d’état took place when then-President Evo Morales stepped down in 2019, with Anez ascending to the presidency amid a leadership vacuum in his wake. Morales’ departure followed mass protests over a contentious election in which he claimed to win a controversial fourth straight term in office.

Anez insists she is innocent.

The controversial case has further exposed rifts in a deeply divided country, while also fueling concerns over the judicial process in Bolivia.

“We are concerned about the way this case has been handled. And we are calling on higher courts to investigate how the proceedings went,” Cesar Munoz, senior investigator for America at Human Rights Watch, said in an interview ahead of the verdict. .

Anez was not allowed to attend the trial in person, but attended the hearing and participated from prison. She has been incarcerated on charges of terrorism, sedition and conspiracy since her arrest in March 2021.

Members and supporters of the Morales’ Movement to Socialism (MAS) party, which returned to power in 2020, say Anez played a key role in what they say was a coup d’état against Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, who oversaw sustained a dramatic reduction in poverty caused by President from 2005 to 2019.

As president, Anez was charged with political backsliding when her government prosecuted former MAS officials.

Supporters of Anez say her trial was illegal and political. During her trial, Anez said she was the product of circumstances and that her ascension to the highest office helped calm a tense nation and lay the groundwork for the October 2020 election.

“I didn’t lift a finger to become president, but I did what I had to do. I assumed the presidency out of duty, according to what is enshrined in the constitution,” Anez said in her closing statement to the judge.

(Reporting by Daniel Ramos in La Paz and Brendan O’Boyle in Mexico City; Writing by Brendan O’Boyle; Editing by William Mallard)