Bolivia's president Evo Morales personally oversaw Friday the handover of a fugitive wanted by Peruvian authorities.
“I want the common criminals and corrupt foreigners to know that Bolivia is not going to be a refuge for corrupt people,” Morales said from the northern Bolivian border town of Desaguadero.
Morales observed as Bolivian authorities handed fugitive Martin Belaunde over to Peruvian police. A prominent Peruvian businessperson, Belaunde is wanted for corruption and unlawful association by Peruvian authorities.
Once President Ollanta Humala's campaign adviser, Belaunde has been accused by Peruvian prosecutors of being involved in a massive criminal organization with links deep in Peru's government. Belaunde has denied the allegations, but in 2014 he fled to Bolivia after authorities announced charges were being filed against him. After his capture and stipulated house arrest in La Paz, earlier this week Belaunde fled and was on the run for nearly four days. On Thursday he was re-apprehended after being sighted in a market.
"He was walking … there was no resistance," Bolivian deputy justice minister Rene Martinez said on local Peruvian broadcaster RPP.
During Friday's hand-over, Morales said his government's handling of the extradition was an example of Bolivia being a responsible neighbor to Peru.
"It is our obligation as Bolivians, first this fight against against corruption,” he said, adding that anyone who aided Belaunde in his escape will face charges.
“I want the corrupt and foreign criminals to understand and not confuse Evo with (U.S. President Barack) Obama or confuse Bolivia with the United States,” he said.
The comment referred to Washington's refusal to extradite former Bolivian officials accused of repressing protesters in 2003. Former Bolivian president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada is among the officials wanted in Bolivia, where he is accused of overseeing the killing of protesters.
“Here, not only because of an issue of legality do we fight corruption, but for a question of dignity, ethics and morals,” Morales said.