On Wednesday, a Bolivian court is expected to order the formal opening of the first ordinary trial against former Senator Jeanine Añez, who proclaimed herself president of the republic during the U.S.-backed coup d’état against President Evo Morales in November 2019.
According to Justice Vice Minister Jaime Siles, the hearings in this criminal process, whose main private accuser is former socialist lawmaker Lidia Patty, could be held in the first quarter of this year.
Since March 2021, Añez has been in preventive detention accused of crimes of terrorism, sedition, and conspiracy in the “Coup” case, for which judges initially ordered a four-month incarceration, which was later extended to six months. Subsequently, the Bolivian justice began another criminal process called “Coup II” in which Añez is accused of a breach of duties and promulgation of unconstitutional resolutions. This process extended her preventive incarceration for an additional six months.
During the ordinary trial, Añez must explain why she proclaimed herself president of the Senate in violation of parliamentary regulations. This political maneuver later allowed her to proclaim herself “Temporary President of Bolivia” in the legislative chamber, but without the presence of sufficient lawmakers to enable a session.
Exigimos a la embajada de EE.UU confirmar o negar que la foto en la que se observa al ex encargado de Negocios, Bruce Williamson y al ex viceministro de Gestión Comunicacional del gobierno de facto, Marco Aurelio Julio, fue tomada en la autoproclamación de Añez en el Legislativo. pic.twitter.com/OSaOOROSqs
— Evo Morales Ayma (@evoespueblo)
January 12, 2022
The tweet reads, “We demand that the U.S. embassy confirm or deny whether this photo, in which former Charge d’Affaires Bruce Williamson and dictatorship’s former Communication Vice Minister Marco Aurelio Julio appear, was taken during Añez’s self-proclamation ceremony in Congress.”
In the investigation phase of the ordinary judicial process, Añez argued that she should be judged by means of a liability trial and recognizing her status as “former President.” The authorities denied this request because Añez was never legally inaugurated as president. Furthermore, the Constitutional Court established that she could never have been constitutional president.
The accusing party hopes that the trial will be speedy because “there is not much to investigate” in a case in which the crimes are obvious since the documents containing unconstitutional resolutions were signed by the officials of the dictatorship.
In the ordinary trial, the defendants are only Añez and former military and police commanders who adopted unconstitutional resolutions. According to the Penal Code, they could receive a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. In another simultaneous legal process, however, other far-right politicians are being indicted for their involvement in the 2019 coup.