The prosecutor accuses Jeanine Anez and two of her ministers of sedition, terrorism and conspiracy for the alleged 2019 coup.
Former interim Bolivia president Jeanine Anez made her first appearance before a judge via video link on Sunday, after authorities stopped her on allegations that she helped instigate a 2019 coup against the then country’s government.
During the hearing, Anez and his former energy and justice ministers Rodrigo Guzman and Alvaro Coimbra were charged with sedition, terrorism and conspiracy.
Prosecutor Harold Jarandilla said the defendants used security forces allies to push then-President Evo Morales to step down after the disputed October 2019 election in the South American nation sparked protests.
Jarandilla also alleged that former officials “rigged” events in the political vacuum that followed the unrest to install Anez as interim president.
Anez was arrested in the wee hours of Saturday morning in her hometown of Trinidad and airlifted to the capital, La Paz.
She tweeted an arrest order, with the response, “the political persecution has begun” – and has since called on the European Union and the Organization of American States to send observation missions to monitor the case.
Jarandilla said Anez was at risk of absconding and demanded that she and her ministers be held for six months in pre-trial detention.
According to an arrest warrant seen by the Reuters news agency, several other ministers of the Anez government are also wanted as well as figures from the police, the army and the opposition.
Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, resigned in November 2019 under pressure from parts of the public, armed forces and opposition leaders who accused him of stealing the election a month earlier .
He returned from exile in Argentina in November last year after his party’s candidate for the Movement for Socialism (MAS) won the long-awaited presidential elections.
President Luis Arce, who won 55% of the vote during the October 2020 competition and easily avoided a second round, vowed to “rebuild” Bolivia in the aftermath of a tumultuous year marked by political unrest and the coronavirus pandemic.
On Saturday morning, Morales tweeted that “the perpetrators and accomplices of the dictatorship that plundered the economy and attacked life and democracy in Bolivia” should be investigated and punished.
Anez claimed she was a victim of political persecution and insisted that she took part in a “constitutional succession” to replace Morales after her resignation.
Meanwhile, the United Nations, the EU and the US have called for due process.
Human Rights Watch’s director for the Americas, Jose Miguel Vivanco, said on Saturday that the arrest warrants against Anez and his ministers “contain no evidence that they committed the crime of terrorism.”
“For this reason, they generate justified doubts as to whether this is not a politically motivated process,” he tweeted.
The Bolivian Episcopal Conference (CEB) called for the immediate release of those detained.
“The policies of revenge and resentment and a justice system dependent on political power do not create confidence in the people and will harm us all, sooner or later,” the CEB said in a statement released on Saturday evening.