Bolivia’s former interim president Jeanine Anez has been sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges related to her taking office in 2019 amid violent protests that led to the resignation and exile of her predecessor Evo Morals.
Anez was found guilty by the court of dereliction of duty and acting against the constitution when she declared herself president in what Mr Morales and his party called a coup.
Anez supporters deny it was a coup, saying Mr Morales’ alleged abuse of power sparked a legitimate uprising in the streets.
The ousting of Bolivia’s first indigenous president and his vice president created a power vacuum that allowed Anez to assume the presidency ad interim as the second president of the Senate, they argue. The defense said it would appeal the decision.
“I didn’t lift a finger to become president, but I did what I had to do to pacify a country that Morales left convulsed as she fled,” Anez said from the prison where she is being held.
Mr Morales resigned following nationwide protests over suspicions of voter fraud in an election he claimed he won to win a fourth term. Mr. Morales denied that there was fraud.
The protests left 37 people dead and forced Mr. Morales to take refuge in Mexico.
His party, known by its Spanish initials MAS, returned to power in the 2020 elections and Mr Morales has since returned to Bolivia.
The trial creates a “historic precedent” against impunity, said MAS deputy Juan Jose Jauregui.
The court also sentenced former armed forces commander Williams Kaliman and former police commander Vladimir Calderon to 10 years in prison. Four other former military leaders received lesser sentences.