Bolivian President Evo Morales expressed “respect” for the families of the victims of the infamous “Octubre Massacre,” after the former head of state Gonzalo 'Goni' Sanchez de Lozada was found guilty for the tragedy.
Morales lauded the families' perseverance. “My respect and admiration for the relatives of the victim... for their perseverance, firmness and strength in obtaining a judicial decision that brings us closer and closer to justice,” the president posted to his Twitter account.
After assuming the office of the presidency, Morales unsuccessfully bid for the extradition of the ex-president, citing impunity of crimes against the Bolivian people.
The “Octubre Massacre” – which resulted in the deaths of more than 50 people, mainly indigenous Aymara – took place in 2003. The ex-president was charged for reportedly giving the go-ahead for police and tanks to be deployed to disperse protesters in El Alto and La Paz. More than 400 people were also reported injured during the deadly massacre.
A U.S. civil court found Goni and former government minister Carlos Berzain guilty – following many days and over 30 hours of deliberating – of the extrajudicial killings. According to La Razon, Goni and Berzain had fled to the United States in an attempt to evade prosecution.
However, U.S. law allows civil courts to process foreign cases involving accusations of torture or extrajudicial executions.
Goni is required to pay US$10 million in compensation to the families of the victims.
Following the verdict, former President Jorge “Tuto” Quiroga remarked that the “elites had to seek justice outside of Bolivia.”
“An economic compensation through civil law, if it is consolidated, is a small act of justice, which should remind everyone that it sometimes takes time, but it always arrives.”
Head of National Unity, Samuel Doria Medina, stated that justice has been done.
Morales is Bolivia's first Aymara president, he was elected in 2006.