Judge orders Peru’s Castillo held 36 months in corruption case
Lima, Mar 9 (EFE).- Ousted President Pedro Castillo, who has been in custody since Dec. 7, can be held in preventive detention for 36 months while prosecutors build a case against him for corruption, a Peruvian Supreme Court judge ruled Thursday.
During a virtual hearing, Juan Carlos Checkley said that the extended pretrial detention was warranted because of the “highly dangerous” nature of the case.
He went on to accuse Castillo of having tried to obstruct justice by threatening witnesses and inciting hostility toward Attorney General Patricia Benavides.
Checkley also cited a statement from lobbyist Karelim Lopez that she paid the Castillo administration roughly $500,000 in bribes to secure public works contracts for her clients.
Castillo, a 51-year-old former schoolteacher, is already under an 18-month preventive detention order for his actions on Dec. 7, when he tried to dissolve congress and begin preparations for a constitutional convention.
The AG Office and a majority of Peruvian lawmakers say Castillo’s Dec. 7 proclamation was an attempted coup.
“I roundly and categorically deny that I am the author and form part of a criminal ring, the only offense I have committed is to serve my country as president of the republic,” Castillo told Checkley earlier this week during a hearing on the prosecution motion.
Prosecutors, Castillo said, “have built a castle of alleged crimes” with help from “bought-off collaborators.”
Castillo’s attempt to dissolve Congress came hours before opposition lawmakers were to mount another attempt to impeach him, which would have been the third such “constitutional accusation” against him since he took office in July 2021.
“I have committed no crime, your honor. Peru knows, the people know, that today those who have made constitutional accusation would also in any case have been part of this ostensible criminal organization, because most of them passed into the presidential offices,” he said, referring to Boluarte’s team.
Castillo, whose wife and children were granted asylum in Mexico, urged Checkley “to demonstrate that you are on the side of the people, not the side of the enemies.” EFE