Fugitive former Bolivian official requests political asylum in Chile after rescue operation
Former Bolivian Deputy Minister of Medium, Large Business and Industry Eduardo Peinado Rivero has entered Chile in a quite unorthodox way and applied for political asylum, it was announced Tuesday.
Peinado, who served under President Evo Morales, fled his country in a manner yet to be determined and was hospitalized in poor health after a rescue operation by Chilean authorities.
The political asylum request was confirmed Tuesday by Chile’s presidential envoy Daniel Agusto. ”Logically, there is a complex situation due to the conditions in which he entered (the country),” Agusto said in a newspaper interview.
The former Bolivian official was rescued Monday in the middle of the mountains with hypothermia and after three days of wandering because the car in which he intended to reach Chile had apparently malfunctioned.
Peinado was removed from office and prosecuted for the allegedly overpriced purchase of US $ 7 million worth of equipment for the PapelBol company, created in September 2007, which was to be supplied by a Brazilian firm.
Peinado was investigated in 2012 for the unclear acquisition on behalf of the Strategic Company Papeles de Bolivia but was granted house arrest until October 2014, when he was sent to the San Pedro correctional facility in La Paz. He soon got another ruling in his favour and went back under house arrest. According to the website of the Bolivian newspaper El Deber, Peinado had information that would put him again in jail and hence his decision to attempt an illegal exit from the country.
Peinado was found Monday with his partner and a pet in the vicinity of the Licancabur volcano, in Antofagasta, 1,370 kilometres from Santiago de Chile, in visibly poor health, dehydrated and in freezing weather.
Peinado was then transferred to the Carlos Cisterna Hospital, in Antofagasta. According to Chilean press reports, it was his companion who managed to alert Carabineros of the situation in a phone call which prompted a rescue operation by City Hall officers, firefighters and members of the Police Special Operations Group (Gope).
“The border unit and rescue team immediately went to the sector of the Chaksa non-authorized crossing to help them. There were only footprints. They were in a fairly deep ravine, far from an access road for vehicles,” explained Lieutenant Juan Zárate, from the San Pedro de Atacama Unit.
They were then ferried by helicopter to Calama, Chilean Air Force (FACh) General Pedro Nadeau Pavez added.