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Last Updated: Monday, 21 February, 2005, 22:31 GMT
Bolivia ex-leader on death charge
Bolivia's ex-President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada
Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada was forced to step down in 2003
Bolivia's ex-President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada and his ousted cabinet have been formally charged with genocide.

The indictment by the Attorney General's office comes four months after the Bolivian Congress voted to put the former president on trial.

The charge relates to the deaths of at least 60 people in protests at government plans to export natural gas.

Mr Sanchez de Lozada, 74, denies allowing his security forces to use violence against the demonstrators.

Fifteen of his former ministers are also accused of involvement.

Extermination

Mr Sanchez de Lozada fled to the US after the protests brought down his government in October 2003.

The Bolivian Congress insisted he should be accused of genocide - a term usually reserved for the systematic and planned extermination of an entire national, racial or ethnic group.

The Attorney General's office now has six months to prepare its case against the former president before submitting it to the Supreme Court for consideration.

If the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case, Mr Sanchez de Lozada will become Bolivia's second former head of state to face trial since the country's return to democracy in 1982.

If found guilty, he faces up to 30 years in prison.


SEE ALSO:
Bolivia backs trial for ex-leader
14 Oct 04 |  Americas
Renewed protests loom in Bolivia
12 Oct 04 |  Americas
Q&A: Bolivian gas protests
18 Oct 03 |  Americas



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