Peru opens criminal investigation against President Castillo


Peruvian President Pedro Castillo speaks outside congress after lifting a curfew in the capital Lima which was imposed following protests over the cost of fuel that have spread across the country, in Lima, Au Peru, April 5, 2022. REUTERS/Angela Ponce/File Photo

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LIMA, May 29 (Reuters) – Peru’s attorney general’s office said on Sunday it is including President Pedro Castillo in an investigation into alleged crimes including influence peddling, collusion and “criminal organization”.

Peru’s Public Ministry said on Twitter that Pablo Sanchez, the country’s top prosecutor, would lead the investigation into Castillo given the “seriousness of the charges” in an investigation against former Transport and Communications Minister Juan Silva and six lawmakers from the opposition party.

The prosecutor’s office began working on the case more than three weeks ago to determine whether there was an alleged “criminal network” within the ministry to award public contracts. According to the statements of a collaborator and businesswoman linked to the government, President Castillo was aware of such a network.

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The “preliminary” investigation against Castillo comes at a time when the leftist president faces further investigations into corruption allegations, as well as widespread and low approval ratings after just nine months in office.

“The president will be guaranteed the full exercise of his right to defense and respect for article 117 of the Political Constitution,” the public ministry said on Twitter.

Peru’s presidents enjoy immunity and cannot be charged by the courts during their five-year term, but they can be investigated.

Other investigations against Castillo, including alleged improper purchases at a state oil company and pressured military promotions, have been put on hold until his term ends in 2026.

The government palace press office was not immediately available for comment. Castillo, who was a teacher in a rural school, dismissed earlier accusations against him which he claims were attempts by opponents to remove him from power.

In late March, President Castillo survived a congressional impeachment vote.

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Report by Marco Aquino; Written by Alexander Villegas; Editing by Mark Porter

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