LA PAZ, Bolivia – Bolivian officials said Tuesday they have formally asked the United States to extradite former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, who ordered a military crackdown on 2003 riots in which at least 60 people died.
The 2,700-page request charging the exiled leader with "genocide" was delivered Monday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Consuelo Ponce told The Associated Press.
U.S. government offices were closed Tuesday for Veterans' Day and officials there could not be reached for comment.
Sanchez de Lozada fled to the U.S. during the anti-government riots after troops under his command opened fire on largely Aymara Indian protesters.
The ex-president's lawyers say the extradition attempt is no more than political harassment by leftist President Evo Morales.
"The actions taken by the Sanchez de Lozada government were constitutional, lawful, and appropriate," Howard Gutman, a lawyer representing the former president, said in a statement released Tuesday.
The extradition "is part of a politically motivated offensive orchestrated by Evo Morales against democracy and those he considers his political foes," he said.
Chances that the extradition will be granted are slim. U.S.-Bolivia relations have soured dramatically in recent months, and Sanchez de Lozada, a resident of Chevy Chase, Maryland, has many Washington allies.
Nevertheless, families of those killed and injured during the protest hailed the extradition request.
"It doesn't matter where he escapes to," said Eloy Rojas, whose 8-year-old daughter was killed when a soldier's bullet fired during the protests flew in the window of his family's home.
"He must pay for the damage he has caused."