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Mystery surrounds death of bankrupt bank trustee who fell from 15th floor of building in Bolivia

A prosecutor in Bolivia launched an investigation Monday into the mysterious death of the trustee of a bankrupt bank who fell from the 15th floor of a building and his family disputed claims he took his own life.

Several of Bolivia's top leaders have demanded an impartial investigation into the death of Carlos Alberto Colodro, 63, who was appointed as trustee of Fassil Bank last month after the government took control of it amid its insolvency and a run on deposits.

Colodro, who was tasked with liquidating the bank, was found dead on Saturday, apparently from a fall from a building in the eastern city of Santa Cruz.

Around the case of Bank Fassil in Bolivia
27 May 2023, Bolivia, Santa Cruz: A special unit removes the body of Carlos Alberto Colodro after he fell from a high floor of the building, according to an official statement. The circumstances of the death are still unclear.  Diego Tejerina/picture alliance via Getty Images

Although officials said the death initially looked like a suicide, many immediately raised questions because Colodro's job as the liquidator of the bank had apparently touched powerful interests. Fassil was the country's fourth largest in terms of deposits.

"There are mentions of a fall and various injuries that could have led to the person's fall," Roger Mariaca, a prosecutor in Santa Cruz, said Monday as he announced that the fall was initially being investigated as "homicide-suicide." The charge refers to an article in Bolivia's penal code relating to the crime of pushing someone to commit suicide.

The lawyer for Colodro's family, Jorge Valda, said there were suspicious elements including "multiple bruises and injuries all over his body" that appeared to have taken place before the fall and "the fact that he was missing an eyeball and a testicle."

The family also raised questions about a supposed suicide note that Colodro wrote, saying it wasn't his handwriting. Authorities said the supposed letter was still under analysis.

Asked about the case, Erick Holguín, commander of the Santa Cruz police department, said Valda had not participated in the ongoing probes so he "is not a suitable person to provide any opinions."

Officials insisted all possibilities are currently being investigated as police say they've taken testimony from several people.

"We cannot rule out anything, all hypotheses are valid," Government Minister Eduardo del Castillo said.

After the government took control of the bank, allegations emerged of supposed million-dollar loans to insolvent individuals and alleged financial connections with powerful real estate groups in Santa Cruz.

Four former executives of Fassil are under investigation and have been remanded in custody.

"You know they were revealing very serious information," said Jerges Mercado, head of Bolivia's lower house of Congress. "Who was interested in silencing the trustee?"

Mercado was one of several officials from differing political leanings who called for an investigation.

"We are deeply saddened by his passing, and we demand a prompt investigation to clarify the causes of this incident," President Luis Arce wrote on social media.

Former President Evo Morales, Arce's predecessor who leads the ruling Movement Toward Socialism party, also called for an "independent and transparent investigation," saying that the "relationship between the death of the trustee and the presumed dealings and money laundering must be cleared up."

Former President Carlos Mesa (2003-2005) also said in a tweet that Colodro's death "generates lots of doubts … that must be cleared up."

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