January 9, 2020 / 12:20 AM / 9 days ago

Bolivia prosecutor seeks Spain response over embassy spat

LA PAZ (Reuters) - Bolivia’s attorney general has pushed forward a probe into Spanish officials the South American country’s government alleges were seeking to help allies of ousted leftist leader Evo Morales who are holed up in the Mexican embassy in La Paz.

The prosecutor said on Wednesday it had sought information on why Spanish officials, on a December visit to the embassy in Bolivia, were accompanied by Spanish tactical police. The incident sparked a diplomatic stand-off and Bolivia expelled Mexico’s ambassador and several Spanish officials. Spain responded with a similar measure.

The affair has tested Bolivia’s caretaker government, which took power after Morales resigned under pressure in November after widespread protests, evidence of electoral fraud and waning support from military and police.

The government of interim President Jeanine Anez claims that Spanish security forces had tried to hide their identity to gain access to the Mexican embassy, which granted asylum to Morales’ backers including former senior aide Juan Ramon Quintana.

Bolivia’s government claims some of those in the embassy are wanted for crimes of sedition and armed uprising.

The attorney general said it had passed the case to the prosecutor’s office in La Paz to take the necessary steps to get responses from those involved and clarification about the role of the members of Spain’s GEO special operations group.

“(We want to know) why they were transferred to Bolivian territory, the task entrusted to this specialized group and the authority that requested their intervention,” Attorney General Juan Lanchipa said.

Bolivia’s government previously requested that the attorney general look into the matter and the alleged involvement of Spanish politicians including Pablo Iglesias, the leader of far-left Unidas Podemos that is part of the new ruling coalition.

Reporting by Daniel Ramos in La Paz; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Richard Chang

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