Judge in Bolivia rules president does not have son with ex-partner


LA PAZ – Bolivian President Evo Morales does not have a son with his ex-lover, who is in jail pending trial on corruption charges, a judge ruled Wednesday.

The tale of love, lies and alleged graft has held people in the Andean nation riveted for months, amid suspicions that Gabriela Zapata may have used her clout to win contracts for her Chinese employer.

Judge Jacqueline Rada ruled there was no evidence that Morales fathered a child with Zapata after the president, who claims the child does not exist, brought a lawsuit asking for the boy to be presented in a closed-door hearing and for DNA testing to be done.

The judge said Zapata had shown four pictures of the child but they were of different boys who did not resemble each other.

She said "there are no other indications that confirm and support the physical existence" of the boy.

Morales initially acknowledged he had a child with Zapata, but claimed she had told him their son had died. One of his advisers then said they suspected the boy had never existed.

He brought the case in March to make her prove the boy is alive.

The court ordered the leftist president to undergo a DNA test, which he did. But Zapata says its results cannot be trusted and refused to allow a DNA test on herself and the child, despite initially agreeing to one, the judge said.

The ruling was issued last Friday but only came to public attention on Wednesday.

The pair's relationship dates back to 2007.

Zapata is currently in jail pending trial on charges of money laundering, embezzlement and influence-peddling.

A former manager at Chinese engineering group CAMC, Zapata is accused of using her ties to the president to land $560 million in government contracts for the company.

The case exploded just as Bolivia prepared to hold a referendum on whether to change the constitution to allow Morales to run for a fourth term.

Morales, Bolivia's first indigenous president, went on to lose the February 21 vote — his first electoral defeat in a decade in power.