Bolivian Senate to hold impeachment trial for chief justice

The Bolivian Senate announced May 21 that an impeachment trial for Chief Justice Dr. Eddy Walter Fernández Gutiérrez of the Bolivian Supreme Court will be held on June 3. The Chamber of Deputies, Bolivia’s lower congressional house, impeached Fernández and suspended his title earlier this month after convicting him on the charge of “retardation of justice.” Fernández denounced his impeachment as a politically motivated endeavor to clear room in the Supreme Court for a justice more likely to represent the interests of President Evo Morales.

The “retardation of justice” charge was attributed to public discontent over Fernández’s refusal to hear a case against former Bolivian president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada arising from the “Black October” killings of 2003. Five days after Fernández’s title was suspended, the Supreme Court announced their intention to try Lozada. The riots leading up to the Black October killings occurred when military forces clashed with indigenous farmers, coca growers, students, and unionists who protested Sanchez de Lozada’s attempts to open up the country to free trade with the US and to export gas and other natural resources. The protests were led by Morales. (Jurist, May 22)

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