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ICC denies Bolivia request to investigate ex-leader Morales

ICC denies Bolivia request to investigate ex-leader Morales
The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor says he will not launch a full investigation into allegations that former Bolivian President Evo Morales and his supporters committed crimes against humanity

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor said Monday he will not launch a full investigation into allegations that former Bolivian President Evo Morales and his supporters committed crimes against humanity by establishing roadblocks that prevented people in one of Latin America’s poorest nations from accessing vital health care during the coronavirus pandemic.

Bolivia asked the global court in 2020 to open an investigation into the roadblocks, alleging that Morales and others carried out “systematic and organized attacks on the Bolivian population” to prevent them accessing health supplies and services.

The Bolivian request said the blockades had “the direct consequence of causing the death of several people and anxiety in the rest of the population” about the possibility of not being able to access medical supplies and care.

The written submission argued that the campaign amounted to the crimes against humanity of murder and inhumane acts.

However ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan said Monday that a preliminary probe established that the events did not meet the legal criteria of crimes against humanity under the court’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute.

“In accordance with my mandate, my role is not to pass judgment on the political context in which the alleged incidents occurred, but to determine — through an independent, impartial and objective assessment — whether they constitute Rome Statute crimes,” Khan said.

“I have concluded they do not,” he added.

Bolivian authorities could seek a judicial review of Khan’s decision.

Morales, the country’s first Indigenous president, resigned in 2019 under pressure from the military and police amid widespread protests and disturbances alleging he was attempting to fraudulently claim reelection. He went into exile, first in Mexico and later in Argentina.

He returned to Bolivia in late 2020 after a protege, former Economy Minister Luis Arce, was sworn in as president after winning election with 55% of the national vote. Morales’ Movement Toward Socialism party also retained its majority in congress.