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Bolivia: pre-trial detention for the three alleged leaders of the failed coup

The three alleged leaders of the failed coup d'état on Wednesday in Bolivia wereé placed in provisional detention for a period of six months by the courts, announced Friday the prosecution.

General Juan José Zuniga, former head of the army, Vice Admiral Juan Arnez, former head of the navy, and Alejandro Irahola, former head of the army mechanized brigade, will be incarcerated in a high security prison located on the outskirts of El Alto, a city close to La Paz.

“This pre-trial detention ordered by the judge will undoubtedly set a precedent, and constitutes a good signal so that the investigation can continue to move forward”, declared prosecutor Cesar Siles.

The three officers suspected of having wanted to overthrow President Luis Arce on Wednesday are accused of armed uprising and terrorism and risk sentences of up to 20 years in prison, the magistrate said on state television.

Dozens of demonstrators gathered Friday in front of the prosecutor's office and the police headquarters where Mr. Zuniga is detained in La Paz, brandishing signs in favor of democracy.

< p>“People who want to enter by force, with machine guns, tanks, cannot govern. We are not going to allow that, whatever government is in place,” Juan told AFP Fernandez, aged 44.

< IMG Alt = "AFP" SRC = "https://img-4.linternaute.com/4ydpm5nr1nhy3c2s6pdbtxqjju=/600x/smart/1c101c5c81e342f785d721c643052bc9/ccmcms- PG " />Supporters of President Luis Arce during a demonstration in La Paz on June 28, 2024 © AFP – AIZAR RALDES

A total of 21 active, retired and civilian military personnel were arrested in connection with the attempted coup, in which troops equipped with tanks besieged the presidential palace for several hours before to retreat.

General Zuniga claimed to have acted on orders from the president who asked him to “stage something to increase his popularity”.

– Political turbulence –

Mr. Arce vigorously denied: “How could anyone order or plan a self-coup? (…) He acted on his own.”

Among the 21 people arrested is also General Marcelo Zegarra, former head of the air force, who must be presented to judges in the coming hours. He presented himself at the prosecutor's office with his two lawyers.

Bolivia: pre-trial detention for the three alleged leaders of the failed coup

Sergeant Alan Condori is accused of being an accomplice of General Juan José Zuniga, head of the army, in La Paz on June 28, 2024 © AFP – ROBERTO ARANDA

Sergeant Alan Condori, who was driving the armored vehicle that attempted to ram one of the doors of the presidential palace, was also arrested.

With this failed coup d'état, Bolivia enters a new period of political turbulence against a backdrop of economic crisis.

The 2025 presidential election whets appetites , while unease reigns within the military institution against a backdrop of popular discontent over rising prices and shortages in a country whose gas and lithium resources are attracting international interest.< /p>

A little over a year before the end of his mandate that began in 2020, Mr. Arce faces multiple fronts.

Particularly on the political level with a wing of his party, the Movement towards Socialism (MAS), remained loyal to former president Evo Morales (2006-2019) who intends to represent himself under the banner of the MAS which he created .

Bolivia: pre-trial detention for the three alleged leaders of the failed coup

Former Bolivian President Evo Morales in La Paz on October 11, 2023 © AFP – AIZAR RALDES

Evo Morales, the first indigenous head of state who governed three terms, wants to return to power despite a decision by the Constitutional Court prohibiting him from doing so on the grounds that he has already served more than the number of mandates authorized by the constitution. A decision that he contests and considers “political”.

Evo Morales asked Friday for the opening of an investigation after questioning the official version: “The coup d'état begins, ministers are joyfully walking in Murillo Square, they touch tanks; a coup d'état with zero injuries, zero shots, zero deaths,” he said at a press conference.

He called on his supporters to mobilize in favor of democracy, without ever mentioning Mr. Arce.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116