Castillo insists on his innocence in corruption probe

Lima, Aug 4 (EFE).- Peru’s president Pedro Castillo reiterated his innocence on Thursday before Attorney General Patricia Benavides, who summoned him to testify about his alleged interference in military and police promotions as part of one of the five preliminary investigations against him.

Castillo went to the headquarters of the Public Ministry in downtown Lima after his lawyer Benji Espinoza assured Wednesday that his client would not go to the prosecutor’s office due to disagreements over the venue.

Minutes before the appointment, however, the president wrote on Twitter that, despite his “right to testify in the Government Palace,” he went with his lawyers to the prosecutor’s office “to defend my innocence and always collaborate with justice.”

After the meeting, which lasted about an hour, Espinoza revealed that Castillo appealed to his constitutional right to refrain from answering the prosecutor’s questions after defending his innocence.

“The president has denied the charges, has confirmed his innocence and then has indicated that, later, when he is summoned, he will testify, but that for this moment he will exercise his constitutional, legal and conventional right to remain silent,” the lawyer detailed to the press.

The head of state denied being part of “any criminal network” and insisted that he demonstrate his innocence “in any space.”

“I have robbed no one, I have killed no one. The people have put me here and I will always answer for the people,” he emphasized.

In this case, Benavides is investigating Castillo for allegedly granting irregular promotions to two army, three air force and two national police officers with the alleged participation of former defense minister Walter Ayala and his former presidential secretary Bruno Pacheco, also implicated in other cases against the president.

This is one of the five preliminary investigations that the prosecutor has opened against Castillo (four of them linked to his management), who in just one year in power became the first president in the history of Peru to be investigated during his mandate.

On June 17, the head of state gave his statement for the accusation of leading a criminal organization entrenched in the executive to obtain illicit benefits from contracts signed by the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

Congress on Thursday also denied him permission to travel to Bogotá, where he planned to attend Sunday’s handover ceremonies for Colombia’s elected president, Gustavo Petro.

In total, 67 congressmen voted against granting Castillo permission, 42 congressmen voted in favor and there were five abstentions, with which parliament denied the permission that Peruvian presidents must obtain from the chamber for any trip abroad.

The deputies had different arguments to deny the permit; some claimed he was a flight risk. EFE


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