(Reuters) — Carlos Chavez, the arrested head of Bolivia’s soccer federation, was sent Tuesday (July 21) to one of Latin America’s most violent prisons to prevent him from fleeing ahead of his trial over corruption charges, according to local media reports.
Chavez was arrested on Friday (July 18) on charges of corruption in the management of finances. He is also the treasurer of the South American Football Confederation, CONMEBOL.
Chavez was arrested on suspicion of a scam in the case of a fund set up for the family of a fan who died at an international match in the central Bolivian city of Oruro in 2013, Bolivian state news agency ABI reported. According to ABI, the fan’s family never received any money from that fund.
Ahead of his stay at the Palmasola high-security prison in Santa Cruz, Chavez was being held by authorities in Sucre alongside Alberto Lozada, the secretary-general of the Bolivian Soccer Federation.
“(Mr. Carlos Chavez) will spend the night here with at the premises of the Anti-Crime Special Forces division. And tomorrow his transfer is being arranged to Santa Cruz for him to spend his pre-trial detention at the Palmasola prison,” Chavez’s lawyer, Jaimie Tapia said.
Lozada will be placed under house arrest.
Guards secure only the perimeter of the sprawling, maximum-security jail at Palmasola, while murderers and drug traffickers run its units, more shantytowns than prison wings, charging inmates for all aspects of their existence.
The complex was visited earlier this month by Pope Francis during his tour through Latin America.
Chavez has denied the charges.
“I am to be held in Palmasola for preventive detention. This decision will be appealed by the 72-hour deadline. But this embarrassment (referring to his arrest) and trickery will be revealed as what I said a month and a half back; this is obviously a coup,” he said in Sucre.
Bolivia’s Attorney General Ramiro Guerrero has said more than 40 people had testified so far in the course of the investigation, which began on June 1.
“This is a proceeding that makes no attack on the Bolivian soccer federation as a whole, which has the mission, according to its statutes, to promote the practice of soccer. Neither the public ministry nor the judicial ministry is intervening in matters directly relating to soccer,” said Bolivian prosecutor Ivan Montellano.
Chavez’s transfer is expected to take place on Wednesday (July 22).