LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — The trustee of a bankrupt bank in Bolivia who died after falling from the 15th floor of an office building killed himself, a forensic investigation concluded Wednesday, in a case that has gripped Bolivia amid speculation over whether he jumped or was pushed. But instead of settling the matter, the finding generated fresh demands for an independent investigation into the death of Carlos Alberto Colodro.
Government Minister Carlos Eduardo del Castillo insisted to reporters that authorities “have investigated all hypotheses and have scientifically and technically demonstrated that the death of Carlos Alberto Colodro was a suicide.” He added: “The cameras show Mr. Colodro entering the 15th floor completely alone.”
But relatives of Colodro, who was found dead Saturday, dismissed the investigation’s conclusions and continued to insist he was the victim of foul play. They have been joined by two former Bolivian presidents in their demand for an impartial investigation into the death.
The government’s investigation was “hasty and not corroborated with the relatives, who were not even questioned for the investigation,” said Jorge Valda, the lawyer representing Colodro’s family. Valda has said Colodro suffered injuries that appeared to be inconsistent with the fall.
Colodro’s death came after last he was appointed last month to take control of Fassil Bank. It was placed under trusteeship after it became insolvent following a massive withdrawal of funds by clients. Colodro was also put in charge of investigating what happened to the bank, which was Bolivia’s fourth largest by deposits.
Suspicions grew quickly about the bank’s bankruptcy and Colodro’s death in part because Bolivia was already immersed in economic uncertainty and political polarization.
But Del Castillo said the investigation determined that “an assassination had been ruled out” and that handwriting analysis proved that a letter signed by Colodro had in fact been written by him. Colodro wrote without providing details that he was under intense pressure, did not have the support he had expected and said goodbye to his family, Del Castillo said.
Valda, the family’s lawyer, said the handwriting analysis of the letter was inadequate, the letter had questionable content and that investigators didn’t request any written material from the family for comparison.
“The letter states he was 64 years old, when he was actually 63, and it also fails to mention all of his children, which raises doubts,” Valda said.
He also questioned the video evidence, saying that “the camera that recorded the moment when he decided to jump voluntarily into the void is not shown.”
And Valda said Colodro’s body was missing an eyeball and had other injuries that he said were not consistent with the fall. But Del Castillo said Colodro’s body suffered a high-speed impact which could have led to numerous injuries.
After the government took control of the bank, allegations emerged of million-dollar loans to insolvent borrowers and alleged financial connections with powerful real estate groups in the lowland Bolivian city of Santa Cruz.
Four former bank executives are under investigation and in custody. Joining Colodro’s relatives in calling for an independent investigation were former longtime President Evo Morales, and his predecessor, Carlos Mesa.
Bolivia’s government as of Wednesday had not yet appointed a trustee to take Colodro’s place and employees of the bankrupt bank took to the streets in several cities to demand payment of their overdue salaries.