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  • Former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada before resigning on 2003.

    Former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada before resigning on 2003. | Photo: EFE

Published 31 May 2018

A United States judge absolved Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada and Carlos Sanchez Berzain from any responsibility in the 2003 massacre.

Bolivian President Evo Morales has questioned a United States federal judge's decision to annul a ruling, which forced a former Bolivian president and his defense minister, to pay a US$10 million in compensation for the death of more than 70 demonstrators during riots in 2003.

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“We condemn the decision of Florida's judge James Cohn that, in a ruling that is against his previous sentences, absolves the fugitive murders of the October massacre Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada and Carlos Sanchez Berzain. We demand the United States to stop protecting those genocides,” wrote Morales on his Twitter account.

Cohn ruled on Wednesday that there was not enough evidence to back the decision in the case that ended last April and ordered the former president Sanchez de Lozada and his Defense Minister Sanchez Berzain to pay US$10 million for damages in a lawsuit filed by the victim's families.

De Lozada told EFE he was satisfied with the ruling since his government “acted according to the law and never had the intention of harming anybody,” during the 2003 protests.

“With the judge's decision ends the trial on the difficult and regretful events of September and October 2003 that interrupted democracy in Bolivia,” said de Lozada, who was president between 1993 and 1997 and again between 2002 and 2003, when he resigned.

De Lozada and Berzain live in the U.S. and have enjoyed refugee status since leaving office after the protests that left more than 70 dead in October 2003, in Bolivia.

Thomas Becker, the U.S. lawyer that filed the lawsuit, said from La Paz that he would appeal to the judge's decision.

“This is not over, this is a great mistake, and we will challenge it,” said Becker.

The family members of eight victims said that “the evidence showed during the trial was more than enough” and announced their wish to appeal the decision.

“The judge's decision to revoke the jury's unanimous sentence can't change the truth that the ten jury members saw during the trial. We have fought for justice more than 14 years, and we won't stop,” said Teofilo Baltazar, a relative of one of the plaintiffs.


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