Breaking News —
La Paz, May 23 . .- The Bolivian judge who was detained when he was going to question defendants in the case of alleged corruption in the purchase of respirators in Spain, including a former minister, was released this Saturday, amid criticism of interference in Justice in a controversial process in Bolivia.
Magistrate Hugo Huacani was released by a constitutional guarantees court, which nullified the arrest ordered the previous day when he was expected in a La Paz court for a hearing with five detainees in this case, including the former interim minister of Health. Marcelo Navajas.
The absence of the judge when the apprehended were already in court, who had arrived amid great media expectation, generated a series of doubts about the process, as it led to the hearing being suspended for the second time.
Huacani had been denounced for allegedly prevaricating in another case, but maintains that he was unaware that there was a process against him or that he had any summons.
The arrest and subsequent release of the judge sparked criticism of alleged pressure on the process, which is the largest corruption scandal in Bolivia in the nearly six months that Jeanine Áñez has been in power on an interim basis.
CRITICISMS OF THE PROCESS
“The arrest of a judge, minutes before the hearing on the case of respirators, is blatant proof that there is no rule of law in Bolivia. We call on the international community to condemn these events,” said former Bolivian President Evo Morales. via Twitter.
The parliamentary caucus of his party, the Movement to Socialism, warned in the same social network of “legal maneuvers of the transitory government of Jeanine Ánez to pressure the Public Ministry with legal chicanes to stop the hearing”, something that he assured that he will present in a commission of the Bolivian Parliament that plans to investigate this case.
The Bolivian Ombudsman Office observed “threats to judicial independence”, as the judge’s arrest stemmed from a complaint by the interim deputy minister of Institutional Transparency and Fight against Corruption, Guido Gustavo Melgar, while the Bolivian Attorney General’s Office assured that intervened in the order to arrest him.
The case investigates a purchase of course a price premium, at least triple its value, of 170 respirators from a company in Spain, which are destined for Bolivian hospitals for critically ill patients with coronavirus, although in the country medical groups warn that only They are valid for emergencies and not for intensive therapy.
The contract is questioned for having been signed in a record time of four days despite warnings from various officials of possible irregularities, such as the intervention of the former minister without it being mandatory, and the Bolivian Foreign Ministry has called the country’s consul in the Spanish city of Barcelona, David Alberto Pareja, to report if he intervened in the purchase.
The acquisition for which Bolivia has already paid about 2.2 million dollars was planned for about five million, although the country’s interim government assures that it will not pay more to the intermediary company that was hired in Spain.