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Former Dictator Garcia Meza Extradited to Bolivia

March 15, 1995

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) _ Luis Garcia Meza, the former Bolivian dictator sentenced to 30 years in prison for human rights violations, exhausted all legal appeals and was being extradited late Tuesday, officials said.

Federal police planned to escort Garcia Meza to a Bolivian jet at the Air Force base in this capital, where he will be put in Bolivian custody, the justice ministry said.

The plane was scheduled to take off at 10:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m. EST) bound for Sao Paulo and the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra before arriving in La Paz, Bolivia, at 4:30 a.m. (3:30 a.m. EST) Wednesday.

Garcia Meza’s lawyers exhausted every legal tactic to delay the extradition, including a habeus corpus plea in November that postponed his return. The Supreme Court had originally approved the extradition on Oct. 19.

Bolivia charged Garcia Meza with 37 crimes and sentenced him in absentia on April 21, 1993, for genocide, human rights violations, theft and embezzlement. He had disappeared two years earlier.

Garcia Meza, 64, headed the 1980 military coup that overthrew a democratically elected government, dissolved Congress and outlawed political parties.

He staged the coup with the backing of cocaine traffickers, Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie and foreign mercenaries who killed, tortured and persecuted labor and political leaders and journalists.

At least 100 people disappeared or were known to be killed in the aftermath of the coup. But Garcia Meza was forced out in 1981 after the United States and other countries suspended economic assistance to Bolivia.

Brazilian police, working with agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, arrested Garcia Meza at his Sao Paulo apartment in March 1994.

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