UN rights chief commends Bolivia sentence for 2003 massacre

2nd September 2011, Comments 0 comments

The UN's rights chief on Friday welcomed a decision by Bolivia's top court to sentence two former ministers and five senior military officers to prison for their role in a deadly 2003 crackdown.

"I commend the Bolivian Supreme Court for its decision, which is an important step in the fight against impunity," Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said in statement.

"I also urge the government to take all necessary steps to ensure victims and their relatives receive suitable reparations and redress," she said.

On Tuesday two former ministers and five ex-military officers were each given prison terms of between three and 15 years for their role in a brutal crackdown that left some 65 people dead and injured 500 during a 2003 protest.

Retired General Roberto Claros Flores, former head of the Bolivian armed forces and Juan Veliz, former commander of the army, received the harshest punishment, with each sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Two other generals received prison sentences of 10 and 11 years, while a former navy admiral was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

And Bolivia's former Labor minister, Adalberto Kuajara, as well as its sustainable development minister, Erick Reyes Villa received sentences of three years each from Bolivia's high court.

The sentences ended years of legal wrangling following the brutal government crackdown during the regime of liberal president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, now in exile in the United States.

The protests were against president Sanchez de Lozada's plan to sell natural gas to foreign countries through Chile, with which Bolivia has a century-old border dispute.

"I welcome this signal by yet another Latin American country that impunity for past human rights violations will no longer be tolerated," Pillay added.

© 2011 AFP

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