GOB IMPLICATES SANTA CRUZ LEADERS IN "TERRORISM" PLOT

Código Fecha Clasificación Origen
09LAPAZ659 6 May 2009 Secreto Embassy La Paz

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S E C R E T LA PAZ 000659

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/05/2049
TAGS: PREL, PTER, PGOV, KJUS, PHUM, ASEC, BL
SUBJECT: GOB IMPLICATES SANTA CRUZ LEADERS IN "TERRORISM"
PLOT

REF: LA PAZ 635 AND PREVIOUS

Classified By: American Presence Post Officer Debra Hevia for reason 1.
4 b and d.

1. (S) Summary: The government prosecutor has implicated a
dozen top Santa Cruz leaders in supporting a "terrorist cell"
aiming to divide the country. A former public defender for
one of the Hungarian defendants told us the government had
informants within the group and a great deal of evidence to
support its claims. Meanwhile, Santa Cruz leaders claim the
government’s investigation is a political show, timed to
undermine the one-year anniversary of the autonomy vote and
to weaken the democratic opposition before December national
elections. The public defender expressed concerns about
judicial irregularities and human rights abuses in the case,
and claims the government has enough evidence that it should
be proceeding with confidence and in conformity with the law.
The irregularities are inspiring conspiracy theories that
the government has something to hide, and that some top
government officials may have been deeply involved in the
group’s activities. We believe it will be many months before
the whole truth is known in this case, if ever. End summary.

Government Links Leading Crucenos to Terrorist Cell


------
2. (U) On May 4, as Santa Cruz leaders were making rousing
public speeches to mark the one-year anniversary of the vote
approving the department’s autonomy statute, the government
prosecutor in charge of the investigation of the "terrorist"
cell uncovered in April accused many of those same Cruceno
leaders of supporting the terrorists’ activities. In a press
conference, prosecutor Marcelo Sosa said evidence collected
from the testimony of the arrested terrorist suspects and
confiscated materials indicated that the group had the
support of:
— Prefect (Governor) Ruben Costas;
— Former Civic Committee President Branko Marinkovic;
— President of the Private Business Association Pedro Yohvio;
— Former President of the Ranchers’ Association and now Civic
Committee Vice President Guido Nayar;
— President of the Agricultural Chamber Mauricio Roca;
— Civic Committee General Director Lorgio Balcazar;
— Former Civic Committee General Director Mario Bruno;
— Vice-President of Blooming Soccer Team Carlos Alberto
Guillen;
— Director for International Cooperation at the Prefecture
Francisco Cirbian;
— Retired Army General Lucio Anez,
and others.

3. (U) The Santa Cruz leadership responded with outrage and
indignation, saying the Morales Administration was on a witch
hunt, that the entire "terrorist cell" story was a set-up,
and that it was an obvious attempt by the government to
squash the democratic opposition before December 2009
presidential elections. Marinkovic declared, "It is no
surprise at all that the government would choose the one-year
anniversary of our autonomy vote to launch these false
accusations against us." Current Civic Committee President
Luis Nunez called for the formation of an "Interinstitutional
Commission" for all Santa Cruz organizations to band together
in mutual defense. He challenged the government to "end the
political show, and focus instead on finding the facts,
following proper legal procedures, and maintaining the
principle of innocent until proven guilty."

4. (U) Sosa told the press that an individual named Luis
Hurtado paid the hotel bills for the group. He said the
government investigation revealed that there were five major
financiers behind the "terrorist" organization, and

identified three of them:
— Alejandro MELGAR Pereira, a commercial arbitration lawyer
associated with the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (CAINCO);
— Juan Alberto KUDELKA Zalles, director of marketing of the
seed oil company owned by the Marinkovic family; and
— Hugo Antonio MELGAR Acha, Bolivian Director of the
U.S.-based NGO Human Rights Foundation, and a close embassy
contact on human rights issues.

5. (U) The New York-based HRF spokeswoman told press that
"Human Rights Foundation in Bolivia has carried out
extraordinary work denouncing human rights abuses in that
country, and unfortunately the response of Morales comes in
the form of insults and unfounded accusations. Even more
worrisome is that the escalation of attacks by the Morales
administration is putting at risk particularly the rights of
Bolivians who live in the four opposition departments. We
have carried out an internal review and have found no
evidence that Mr. Acha is linked to the group that the
government claims is carrying out separatist activities."

Public Defender: So Much Pressure, So Much Evidence


------
6. (S) American Presence Post Officer met May 5 with the
former public defender assigned to alleged terrorist Mario
Tadic, one of the two Hungarian citizens arrested in the
April 15 raid on the Hotel Las Americas in Santa Cruz
(reftel). The defender had just recused herself from the
case, saying she couldn’t function in the face of so many
judicial irregularities and so much government pressure, with
no support from her institution. Based on her discussions
with her former client and her review of all the government
evidence, she believes that the Santa Cruz leaders named by
the government are most likely linked with the group, which
she called "mercenaries" not "terrorists." She said they did
not seem to be acting out of any particular conviction, but
Tadic admitted they had been stockpiling weapons and carrying
out military training on rural properties outside the city of
Santa Cruz. She confirmed they were responsible for placing
the explosive device in front of the Cardinal’s house on
April 14. Tadic testified that the next target was going to
be Prefect Ruben Costas’ residence, and that Rozsa had
advised Costas to strengthen his security gate to minimize
the damage. The intent in targetting the Cardinal and the
Prefect was to make it look like MAS-supporters were carrying
out the attacks.

7. (S) The defense attorney said that the two members of the
"Santa Cruz Youth Union" arrested last week for allegedly
providing weapons to the "terrorists" were actually
government informants (Juan Gueder and Alejandro Mendoza).
Apparently they were originally contracted by the group to
provide weapons, but they charged the group much more than
the weapons were worth. This caused a "conflict" (ring
leader Eduardo Rozsa Flores reportedly had a violent temper),
and after the altercation the two went to the government to
inform on Rozsa and his group. They are currently under
house arrest in La Paz, and very indignant about the rough
way they were treated during their arrests, considering that
they were working for the government after their fallout with
the group. Another former Youth Union member, Ignacio Villa
Vargas, is being treated as a "key witness" and is in hiding
under government protection in La Paz. Santa Cruz leaders
consider him a "bought" voice for the government, given his
long criminal record.

8. (S) The defender said the second arrested Hungarian, Elod
Toaso, was actually Rozsa’s lover. He was badly beaten
during the arrest, but not during any interrogations. He now
has a private lawyer, who is planning to use the defense that
Toaso was merely Rozsa’s domestic partner, and not a member
of the "terrorist cell." The lawyer also said in a public

statement that his client has information about the
involvement of high-level government officials, which he will
reveal soon.

Real Human Rights Abuses


9. (S) The Hungarian, Irish, and Romanian government are
demanding an explanation for why Bolivian police shot three
men dead in their beds in the middle of the night, and a
Spanish expert in terrorism investigations has arrived in
Bolivia. The public defender admitted that the
highly-trained SWAT team could have easily arrested them in
that condition in the middle of the night. There are many
conspiracy theories that the central government not only knew
about the activities of the group, but got directly involved
at some point to futher incriminate Santa Cruz leaders. For
example, the informers told the police the identity and
location of a Paraguayan arms dealer (Alcides) that was one
of the group’s suppliers, but the government chose not to
arrest or question him. The defender cannot understand why.
This is but one of the irregularities. Another problem is
that the government is publicly releasing testimony by its
"key witness" Villa Vargas, but defense attorneys have never
seen him, have no ability to question him due to his supposed
"terminal diabetes," and the government has never presented
evidence from a medical authority that he is too ill to
testify in public.

10. (S) In general, the defense attorney was appalled and
offended by the way the government is handling the case.
Based on what she has been shown, she said they have much
evidence and should be acting in full confidence. There is
no need to be making such a political show and violating
procedural law, and certainly no need to so blatantly abuse
the rights of the defendants, she stated. For example, she
was summoned to a hearing without receiving a copy of the
evidence the prosecutor was to present, which legally she
should have been given 48 hours before the hearing. She
filed a motion to postpone the hearing, and the new time was
set for 2:30 a.m. She said Tadic is being kept in solitary
confinement with no electricity, so he is in the semi-dark
all day long and total dark at night. He has a brother in
Chile who is willing to help him, but the prison warden will
not allow him contact with his brother. He has no clothes,
nothing for his personal hygiene, and since he was arrested
in the middle of the night, not even his eyeglasses, so he
cannot read anything. The defense attorney filed a complaint
with the social worker of the prison, asked the government to
provide him with his personal effects from Santa Cruz such as
clothing and eyeglasses, and also asked the Red Cross to
provide some humanitarian assistance, but no one has provided
any relief for Tadic and he languishes in very poor
conditions. In addition, she said she could not assume a
proper defense given the procedural irregularities and the
government pressure surrounding the case, and the frustration
and stress caused her to recuse herself. She was replaced by
a public defender who is "100 percent MAS-ista" and she is
confident Tadic will continue to be treated poorly and
receive the maximum sentence.

Comment:


11. (C) There are many unanswered questions in the
government’s investigation, and the Crucenos vehemently deny
the accusations. We expect the saga to drag on for many
months. Perhaps we will never know the full truth. However,
we can take small comfort in the fact that the public
defender did not report seeing the U.S. Embassy on any list
of potential suspects.

URS