JOHANNESBURG: Bolivian President Evo Morales's jailed ex-girlfriend has admitted the child he fathered with her died, changing her story in a political telenovela that has shocked the country, a newspaper said Friday.
The racy saga involves Morales's two-year relationship with Gabriela Zapata, a high-powered executive who is now accused of embezzlement and money laundering.
Morales, Bolivia's first indigenous president, acknowledged he had a child with Zapata, but said the boy died soon after birth. Zapata insisted he was alive.
Confusing matters further, Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera and the attorney general's office said the baby never existed.
But Zapata herself has now told prosecutors the child existed but died in 2009, according to the daily Los Tiempos de Cochabamba.
She made the statement this week, it reported.
"He was born on April 30, 2007 in a private residence in La Paz," she reportedly said.
"In reality he died on October 2, 2009 in La Paz."
A former manager at Chinese engineering group CAMC, Zapata, 28, has been accused of using her ties to the president to land $560 million in government contracts for the company.
The case exploded onto the political scene just as Bolivia prepared to hold a referendum on whether to change the constitution to allow Morales, 56, to run for a fourth term.
Morales, who has been in office since 2006, went on to lose the February 21 vote.
He underwent court-ordered DNA testing in April to resolve the paternity case.
But Zapata refused to present the child for testing, saying the state medical officials in charge could fake the results.
Amid the scandal, Congress opened an investigation after the government admitted Zapata used state offices and employees to carry out CAMC business, but ruled Morales was not at fault.