The president of Peru , the leftist Pedro Castillo , faces a new battle with the justice of his country.
The Prosecutor of the Nation of Peru presented on Tuesday a constitutional complaint against President Pedro Castillo for the crime of criminal organization in a document delivered to Congress, an action that can lead to the suspension in office of the leftist president.
Castillo has accumulated six inquiries against him since he took office 15 months ago. The cases include his family environment, such as his wife, brothers-in-law and nephews.
Since coming to power, he has lived under the siege of the prosecution and the siege of a Congress dominated by the right that demands his resignation and has already tried twice to remove him.
The president, a rural teacher like his wife, denies that his family has committed crimes and says he is the victim of a campaign to remove him from power.
Presidents in Peru have immunity and cannot normally be charged with criminal offences. The constitutional complaint represents a relevant step to lift that restriction, in one of the most aggressive measures taken against Castillo since he came to power in July 2021.
This is what we know about the accusation against him and the steps that follow for the Peruvian president.
What are the prosecution’s accusations against Castillo?
The thesis of the prosecution is that the president directs a network of corruption of money laundering and granting of public works contracts made up of his family and political environment.
“I file a constitutional complaint against José Pedro Castillo Terrones, in his capacity as President of the Republic, as the alleged perpetrator of crimes against public tranquility in the form of criminal organization aggravated by his status as leader,” said Patricia Benavides in a document released on the institution’s Twitter account.
The complaint includes two former ministers accused of influence peddling: Juan Silva, former head of Transport and Communications, and Geiner Alvarado, former head of Housing, who are accused of being part of the organization that Castillo allegedly runs from the presidency.
“Serious indications have been found of the alleged existence of a criminal organization entrenched in the Government Palace with the purpose of capturing, controlling and directing contracting processes to obtain illicit profits,” Benavides reported on social networks.
“From this moment it is the exclusive and exclusive responsibility of the Congress of the Republic to decide on the processing of the constitutional complaint within the framework of the United Nations Convention against Corruption,” he added.
A sister-in-law of Castillo, Yenifer Paredes, 26, has been serving 30 months in preventive detention since August 29 for allegedly integrating said network.
The first lady, Lilia Paredes, and two of her brothers, Walter and David, are also under investigation and face a request to prohibit them from leaving the country for three years.
The Peruvian prosecutor’s office, together with the judicial police, began an extensive operation in Lima and other cities in the country on Tuesday morning. The head of state reacted with indignation to the intervention of the authorities, which involved the home of a close relative in the capital.
“The Prosecutor’s Office has entered my sister’s house. My mother is there. This abusive act has affected her health. I hold the National Prosecutor’s Office responsible for the health of my mother,” Castillo had said on Twitter.
The president’s mother suffered a decompensation and was transferred to a hospital in Lima, according to the Canal N television station.
The intervention of the prosecution also included the search of the homes of six officials and friends of Castillo. One of them had lent his address to the president when he came to power to allegedly arrange public works with businessmen, according to the prosecution.
Five of them were arrested, including Auner Vásquez and Biberto Castillo, who worked directly in the Government Palace of Peru, where the president’s office is located, said a source from the prosecution.
Among the homes and offices raided are those of six opposition congressmen, allegedly in collusion with the government.
Darwin Espinoza, one of the legislators whose office was seized, said that the prosecution is listening to “gossip” to make accusations. As part of the investigations, the prosecution received information from collaborators who have been involved in the complaints and who would compromise legislators, in exchange for redemptions of possible convictions.
Peru’s congress, dominated by the right, announced on Wednesday that it will decide in two weeks whether to open a preliminary trial against leftist President Pedro Castillo after the prosecution accused him of the alleged crime of criminal organization.
“We have 10 working days to determine whether or not it proceeds,” Lady Camones, who heads the Subcommittee on Constitutional Accusations, which is responsible for the decision, told the press.
Camones announced that on Friday they will begin to evaluate the request. If it is declared admissible, a political preliminary trial will begin for Castillo, which could last between two and three months before it reaches the plenary session of Congress.
This subcommittee is the first hurdle that the complaint by the attorney general, Patricia Benavides, against Castillo, an unprecedented situation in Peru, must overcome in Congress.
After advancing in several instances, the process can lead to his removal from office.
The plenary session of Congress is the only instance that can decide the fate of Castillo, who was elected last year to govern until July 2026.
Is the accusation legal?
The chief of staff, Aníbal Torres, said that the complaint processed by Congress is “totally inadmissible” because it does not comply with the terms of article 117 of the Constitution, which specifies the crimes for which a person can be judicially and politically accused. acting president.
“What this complaint seeks is to destabilize the country, it is contrary to the Constitution,” Torres told the press after a meeting of the Council of Ministers.
The former president of the Constitutional Court, Óscar Urviola, told the newspaper La República that the complaint “has elements for Congress to qualify the president’s conduct as permanent moral incapacity, which disqualifies him from continuing in office.”
Castillo accuses a “coup d’état”
Since coming to power, Castillo has lived under the siege of the prosecution and the siege of a Congress, dominated by the right, which demands his resignation and tried twice to remove him.
In a press conference with foreign journalists, the president described the constitutional complaint —as well as the raids and arrests— as a “coup d’état” orchestrated by the Attorney General’s Office.
“Today, in the morning hours, the execution of a new form of coup d’état has begun in Peru, a coup d’état with scripts created using the Public Ministry politically and (to) make the country believe that my person leads a criminal network,” denounced the president.
In what was his first press conference since he took office, Castillo said that when he travels around the interior of the country, the people tell him to close Congress, but that he is “a democrat.” In addition, he stated that “We are going to guarantee economic stability and give full confidence to investors.”
But “we are going to stand firm despite this political persecution,” he added at the press conference. “They are substantiating an accusation that we have never committed,” he said.
With information from AFP and Reuters