Lima, Aug 10 (EFE).- Yenifer Paredes, the sister-in-law of President Pedro Castillo, surrendered Wednesday to the Peruvian Attorney General’s Office to address accusations of influence-peddling, her lawyer told broadcaster RPP Noticias.
“My client’s surrender took the Attorney General’s Office by surprise,” Jose Dionicio Quesnay said.
Paredes, who was raised by older sibling Liliana and Castillo, was thought to be residing with them in the presidential palace, where authorities went on Tuesday to detain her.
A judge authorized the AG Office to hold Yenifer for 10 days while investigating an allegation that she acted improperly in the awarding of a public works contract for a project in Castillo’s home region of Cajamarca.
Authorities remained at the palace until the early hours of Wednesday searching for Yenifer Paredes.
Quesnay did not shed any light on his client’s whereabouts prior to her appearance at the AG Office, but Justice Minister Felix Chero told a press conference that the young woman’s surrender discredited media accounts about her hiding in the presidential palace.
“It shows that the president is not covering for anyone,” Chero said, praising Yenifer for her “courage” in facing the accusations.
The warrant for the arrest of Yenifer Paredes and three other people, dismissed by Castillo as a “media show,” followed an investigation spurred by a news story on America Television.
The network aired a video in which Yenifer Paredes told residents of Cajamarca’s Chota district that they needed to be counted to provide justification for a project in their community.
Paredes is seen in the video along with Hugo Espino, principal of JJM Espino Ingenieria & Construccion S.A.C., which last September won a public works contract worth nearly $1 million.
In recent testimony before the congressional Oversight Committee, Paredes denied playing any role in the awarding of the contract to the Espino firm, though she acknowledged working for the company.
She said she met Hugo Espino in 2019 and started working for him on the basis of a “verbal” contract in August 2021, the month after Castillo became president.
Paredes said that the video aired by America Television was filmed as she was acting on behalf of Espino “to count the population, collect statistical data on the population to see if it was feasible to carry out some project.”
Hugo Espino, his sister, Anggi, and a local official from Chota, Jose Medina Guerrero, were all taken into custody on Tuesday.
The court order authorizing the arrests was based on the AG Office’s theory of a Castillo-led criminal organization embedded in the institutions of government.
That ostensible organization includes Transportation Minister Geiner Alvarado and first lady Liliana Paredes, according to prosecutors.
Both Castillo and his wife have insisted on their innocence under formal questioning by the AG Office. EFE Hours before Yenifer Paredes turned herself in, the attorney who accompanied the president and first lady during their interrogations announced he was resigning as head of their legal team.
“I have made the decision to resign the defense of the president and the first lady,” Benji Espinoza said on Twitter, without offering a reason for stepping away.
“In this time I have dedicated all my strength in the defense of due process in the framework of the presumption of innocence to which every citizen of the republic is entitled,” he wrote.
Lawyers, he said, should not be judged based on who they represent, but on how they discharge their duties and he insisted that he defended the president and his wife “with probity and diligence” as well as “passion and vehemence.” EFE csr-pbc/dr