Bolivia: Jurors in 'Goni' Case Still Undecided After 34 Hours


Jurors assigned to the trial of former Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada could not reach a verdict after the fifth day of deliberations in a Florida court.

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"It is very unusual for a jury to deliberate for more than four days without asking what to do or without stating in neutral," federal judge James Cohn disclosed. A “deadlock” or stalemate will trigger the judge to declare the trial “null.”

The 10 jurors were unable to arrive at a conclusion in the case against the ex-head of state – widely known a Goni, who is accused of humanitarian crimes committed against the Aymara people.

"At this time we can not determine how long we will take," a statement from the jury said. The jury has spent about 34 hours deliberating, so far.

Defence attorney Stephen Raber, have asked the judge to consider the “Allen charge.” The Allen charge is a judicial method suggesting to those jurors in the minority to consider changing their opinion and adjusting to the majority.

“Yes, I feel we have to do something,” Justice Cohn responded.

Goni and his former defence minister, Carlos Sanchez Berzain, are on trial to determine their culpability in a massacre of the indigenous people. On October 17, 2003, residents of El Alto rebelled against the government, leading to military tanks being deployed the streets.

More than 50 people died, mainly from the Aymara community.

Goni immediately resigned and fled to the United States.

Several relatives of the Aymara filed the civil case against the duo. U.S. law allows foreign civil suits involving torture or extrajudicial executions to be tried in their court system.

The 87-year-old is the first former president to go to trial in the United States for human rights abuses, according to the Center For Constitutional Rights (CCR).


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