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Soldier discharged over presidential medal theft

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A Bolivian soldier who was robbed of a jewel-encrusted presidential medal in his care while visiting a brothel has been discharged, the Armed Services said on Friday.


Lieutenant Roberto Juan de Dios Ortiz Blanco was also detained on charges of “breach of duties, anti-economic conduct and damage to the value of national heritage.”

The army also dismissed General Alberto Mancilla, head of Ortiz Blanco’s unit that was charged with protecting the presidential residence and thus entrusted with safeguarding national treasures when they leave the building.

Ortiz Blanco was looking after the presidential medal and a tricolor sash due to be taken from the capital La Paz to the central city of Cochabamba to be given to President Evo Morales to wear during a speech on Wednesday.

But the flight was delayed and Ortiz Blanco said he decided to visit some brothels while waiting.

Ortiz Blanco left the diamond-encrusted medal and sash in a backpack in his car but when he got back, the bag had been stolen.

The medal was a gift from Congress to South American liberation hero Simon Bolivar, whom the country is named after, in 1825.

Morales was unable to wear the medal or sash during his speech on Wednesday but that same day they were found in the pulpit of a church in La Paz.

A Peruvian has been arrested over the theft.

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