Ex Bolivian police chief jailed for 2019 deaths prosecutors first chose not to investigate
Former Bolivian Police chief Javier Fuad Vaca has been placed under preventive arrest Friday for his alleged involvement in crimes during the 2019 uprising which resulted in the overthrowing of President Evo Morales.
The current arrest warrant has a validity of six months while investigations are carried out regarding a dossier labelled coup d’etat. Vaca is accused of the alleged crimes of murder in a degree of complicity and concealment, for the deaths that occurred in November 2019, in La Paz.
At least three people died during the conflicts in Pedregal and Rosales areas as a result of violence from security forces: Percy Romer Conde Noguera, Juan Martín Pérez Taco and Beltrán Paulino Condori.
The Prosecutor’s Office rejected the complaints in 2020, in two cases it had to reopen the investigations, according to the report of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI).
In the case of Percy Romer Conde, according to the GIEI, the investigation has yielded little evidence. The file barely contains the statement of the victim’s sister, the autopsy protocol, a photographic sample and some police operative reports that, for the most part, do not add up to much.
However, on November 22, 2020, … the Prosecutor’s Office issued a resolution rejecting the complaint, stating that there were not enough elements to identify the possible perpetrators, GIEI said.
Regarding Juan Martín Pérez, the investigation, in this case, was also scant, without substantial progress. The young man’s family even denounced to the GIEI that they had been pressured by the Public Prosecutor’s Office. “There is evidence of an unjustified delay in the actions of the Prosecutor’s Office, as well as an omission in the fulfilment of its obligations to investigate. On September 11, 2020, the Prosecutor’s Office issued a rejection resolution alleging ‘the legal obstacle known as procedural deadlines, which, having elapsed, determine that a pertinent resolution must be issued since the court exercised jurisdictional control that prevents continuing with the investigation.” says the GIEI report.
Subsequently, on October 19, 2020, the investigation was reopened after the investigator assigned to the case said that an autopsy on Pérez’s death had not been performed, even though his family requested one.
Beltrán Paulino Condori, according to testimonies from his relatives, was shot dead at his home when he tried to protect his house from the stones that were thrown at it by unidentified groups.
“On September 10, 2020, the prosecutor issued a resolution rejecting the investigation because it had not been possible to obtain sufficient evidence to identify the perpetrator or perpetrators of the act. However, on November 30, 2020, the investigation is reopened at the request of the prosecutor….” the GIEI report reads.
For the group of experts in these cases, the delay in the investigations is not justified. The fact that the Prosecutor’s Office has issued requests for rejection represents an absence of the State in guaranteeing the rights of the next of kin to know the truth of the circumstances of the death of their loved ones.