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World News

Bolivia refers August 2020 protests to International Criminal Court: prosecutor

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - The interim government of Bolivia has referred protests and blockades by opposition supporters this August ahead of the presidential vote in October to the International Criminal Court, the court’s prosecutor said in a statement Wednesday.

“The referring state requests the prosecutor to initiate an investigation into crimes against humanity allegedly committed on the territory of Bolivia,” the prosecution statement said.

It said the referral was linked to the August protests and blockades by opposition parties. The Bolivian government says the protests and roadblock constituted the crime of “intentionally causing great suffering” to the civilian population because people were cut off from medical services and supplies resulting in several deaths.

Tensions are high as the South American nation heads for a presidential election on Oct. 18 that has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In August, supporters of former president Evo Morales demanded an earlier vote through protests and roadblocks which the government said led to deaths after medical oxygen transports could not get through to hospitals.

The office of the prosecutor gave no timeline for a decision on whether or not to open an investigation, the first step in building a future case. It did stress that a referral does not automatically lead to the opening of an investigation.

Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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