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Bolivia demands return of senator who fled to Brazil

President Evo Morales says he expects Brazil to return Roger Pinto, who was sentenced to a year in prison in a corruption case.

Evo morales bolivia brazil senator 08 28 2013Enlarge
(AIZAR RALDES/AFP/Getty Images)

Bolivia's President Evo Morales demanded Wednesday the return of an opposition senator who escaped to Brazil after 15 months holed up in the latter's embassy in La Paz.

The politician's escape in an embassy vehicle under the escort of Brazilian marines embarrassed President Dilma Rousseff, who replaced her foreign minister over the flap.

Morales called on Brazil to repatriate Roger Pinto, who was sentenced to a year in prison in a corruption case, regardless.

Pinto, who was granted political asylum by Brazil after taking refuge in its embassy in La Paz last year, claims he is a victim of political persecution after he accused the government of corruption and ties to drug trafficking.

"It is important to return Roger Pinto to Bolivian justice, and that he be tried like anyone else in authority involved in corruption," Morales said in his first public comment on the case.

He said that if it had happened the other way around, "I would have sent the corrupt one over the border."

Pinto fled on Friday with the help of Brazilian charge d'affaires Eduardo Saboia.

Saboia sent him on a 22-hour drive Friday to the Brazilian border in an embassy vehicle, escorted by the marines but without a safe conduct pass from the Bolivian government.

An angry Rousseff said the surreptitious transfer had put Pinto's life at risk, telling reporters Tuesday: "I deeply regret that an exile was subjected to such insecurity."

Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota resigned over the incident and was replaced by Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, Brazil's ambassador to the United Nations.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130828/bolivia-demands-return-senator-who-fled-brazil