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Bolivia judge sentences opposition leader to pre-trial detention

By AFP - Dec 31,2022 - Last updated at Dec 31,2022

LA PAZ — Protesters clashed with police in Bolivia’s largest city on Friday, after a court sentenced a key opposition leader to four months in pre-trial detention on charges of terrorism.

Several hundred demonstrators threw rocks and firecrackers at a police building and burned tires in downtown Santa Cruz, an AFP reporter on the scene observed.

Riot police fired tear gas and made at least four arrests.

Earlier Friday Judge Sergio Pacheco ordered that Luis Fernando Camacho, a former presidential candidate, be held at the maximum security prison of Chonchocoro in La Paz.

Camacho, the right-wing governor of the country’s economic powerhouse region of Santa Cruz, was arrested on Wednesday on terrorism charges, including for an alleged role in the resignation of leftist president Evo Morales in 2019.

The prosecution on Thursday had sought six months in detention for Camacho, amid clashes between protesters and police in Santa Cruz.

Camacho had been under investigation for his role in strikes and sometimes violent protests in 2019, prompted by Morales’s disputed election to a fourth term.

Morales ultimately resigned under pressure after losing the support of the military.

Camacho has repeatedly denied having fomented a coup against Morales.

Camacho, who leads the second-largest opposition bloc in congress, came third in presidential elections in October 2020 that were won by leftist Luis Arce, a Morales protege.

Former interim president Jeanine Anez and ex-president Jorge Quiroga condemned his arrest.

The charges against Camacho echo the arrest and trial of Anez, who was detained last year and given a 10-year prison term in June for allegedly plotting the toppling of Morales, her predecessor.

Supporters of the socialist government of Arce, meanwhile, welcomed the detention of Camacho. Attorney General Wilfredo Chavez, a former minister under Morales, declared that “justice must do its job”.

 

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