Bolivia's Justice Minister Iván Lima Wednesday said his country would seek the extradition of former President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada from the United States to be held accountable for extrajudicial executions in October 2003.
”We are going to insist with the extradition of Mr. (Gonzalo) Sánchez de Lozada. We have a process that is currently before the Supreme Court of Justice. In any case, (the extradition) is a sovereign decision of the United States, where he currently resides, Lima said, according to the Ministry's Twitter account.
Apart from the killings, Sánchez de Lozada is wanted in connection with crimes of corruption during his presidency. The US government usually does not deny extradition when it comes to these crimes, he said.
Lima made these announcements a day after US Federal Judge James Cohn upheld a ruling against Sánchez de Lozada and his former minister Carlos Sánchez Berzaín, sentencing both of them to pay 10 million US dollars in damages to the families of those slaughtered in October 2003.
Lima had already indicated labelled Judge Cohn's ruling an act of justice and an important precedent against impunity.
The 22-page sentence signed by Judge James Cohn established sufficient evidence to show that Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín are responsible for the extrajudicial executions of Bolivians that occurred after the promulgation of Supreme Decree 27209 of October 11, 2003, a presidential act similar to Supreme Decree 4078 of November 15, 2019 that led to the Senkata and Sacaba massacres.” Lima had said Tuesday.
In 2018 a jury determined that Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín were guilty of the extrajudicial deaths and awarded 10 million dollars to the plaintiffs. Later that same year, Judge Cohn annulled the verdict, observing a lack of evidence, but later in August 2020 an Appeals Court reversed the judge's decision and ordered him to readjust the process.
Already in November 2020, former President Sánchez de Lozada and his former minister tried again to annul the process, presenting the motion for Judge Cohn to decide to reject the plaintiffs' claims or, alternatively, to decide to carry out a new trial. However, the request was denied by Cohn through a ruling issued on April 5, 2021.
In October 2003, Sánchez de Lozada faced a popular revolt in El Alto and La Paz with a military deployment. Its repression left 67 dead and more than 400 injured. The then president and several of his ministers fled to avoid a trial on charges of genocide in Bolivia.