U.S. Jury Finds Bolivia’s Ex-Leader Responsible For Civilian Deaths - FbiCables Network | The News that Shapes World Opinion

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Thursday, April 05, 2018

U.S. Jury Finds Bolivia’s Ex-Leader Responsible For Civilian Deaths

Following a landmark three-week trial, a U.S. jury finds Bolivia’s former president responsible for civilian deaths by security forces.
“Ten people from the United States after hearing the facts of the events have determined that Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzain are simply human rights violators who have committed massacres on their own people for economic reasons,” stated Rogelio Mayta, the appointed lawyer for the victims.
In a decision Tuesday, a civil court in Florida ruled Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada and his defense minister owed $10 million to the families of the victims killed in street protests in 2003.
Both Lozada and Jose Carlos Sánchez Berzain have been living in the U.S. since the unrest known as the “gas war” in the South American nation.
FILE – In this Sept. 13, 2003, file photo, Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada speaks during a news conference in Mexico City. A U.S. jury has found the former president of Bolivia and his defense minister responsible for government killings during 2003 unrest in a lawsuit filed by Bolivians whose family members were among the slain. The jury verdict came Tuesday, April 3, 2018, after a nearly three-week trial in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo Marco Ugarte, File)
The case was brought by eight families over a decade ago, and claims the two plotted to kill thousands of civilians to crush political opposition.
They filed it under the Torture Victim Protection Act, which allows suits on extrajudicial killings to be brought in the U.S.
The protests were over the use of the country’s natural gas reserves, and security forces fired on people to clear the streets.
Other deadly clashes occurred when miners marched to the capital in solidarity. Many of the victims were from the indigenous population.
The prosecution claims the former president was responsible for the 64 deaths, because he told the military to use deadly force.
The end of the protests marked the deterioration of traditional political parties in the country, and propelled the first indigenous President Evo Morales to power.
On Tuesday, he tweeted his support of the people who persevered to get the case before a judge. The tweet read, “My respect and admiration to the relatives of the victims of October 2003, for their perseverance, firmness and strength to achieve a judicial decision that brings us closer to justice.”
Meanwhile, lawyers for the former officials vowed to overturn the decision, because there was not enough evidence.
For now, the landmark trial was the first time in history a former head of state sat before his accusers in a U.S. human rights trial.

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