Peru's President Pedro Castillo is the subject of six criminal investigations

Peruvian president faces trial over bribes

Peruvian President Pedro Castillo is the subject of six criminal investigations – Copyright AFP John THYS

Peruvian President Pedro Castillo, the subject of six criminal investigations, appeared before prosecutors on Monday to answer allegations that he ran a corruption ring from his office.

Dressed in a red down jacket, Castillo arrived at the prosecutor’s office in a black official car, which was pelted with eggs by people gathered outside as it drove off.

Castillo, 52, spent more than two hours inside before addressing a group of supporters at the presidential palace.

He said he told investigators “that not only do I reject and categorically deny these false accusations, but that I will go and face justice.”

Castillo called the accusations “fabricated tales” and insisted that the accusations were a political ploy designed to bring him down.

Castillo, who has survived two impeachment attempts since taking office last July, has been summoned in connection with an investigation into the firing of his interior minister, Mariano Gonzalez, in July.

Gonzalez authorized the arrest of Castillo’s allies.

Castillo was also questioned about the alleged impact on the purchase of fuel by state-owned Petroperu.

– “Proclaimed his innocence” –

In total, the prosecutor’s office opened six investigations against Castillo, including on suspicion of bribery and plagiarism of his university dissertation.

“The president has denied each of the charges, pleading not guilty,” lawyer Benji Espinoza told reporters.

He added that Castillo did not answer any of the questions, citing his right to remain silent, other than a general statement denying the allegations.

A planned appearance by Castillo’s wife Lilia Paredes, 49, accused of conspiracy and money laundering in an alleged corruption ring led by her husband, was canceled at the last minute, according to her lawyer.

Castillo appeared before investigators twice on charges related to alleged bribes in public works contracts and alleged illegal promotions.

The sixth investigation was launched last month after police raided the presidential palace in Lima, where the president lives, as well as his private home in rural Peru, looking for his sister-in-law Yenifer Paredes, who later turned herself in. .

Three others — business brothers Hugo and Anggy Espino and mayor José Nenil Medina of Castillo’s Cajamarca region — were also arrested on charges of involvement in a criminal conspiracy.

Castillo, who is serving a five-year term that ends in 2026, cannot be tried while in office.

The 52-year-old rural school teacher and trade unionist unexpectedly wrested power from Peru’s traditional political elite in last year’s elections.

But just over a year later, opinion polls show that three-quarters of Peruvians disapprove of Castillo’s run of the country.

Peru is no stranger to instability, with three presidents in five days in 2020 and five presidents and three legislatures since 2016.

But six open investigations into a sitting president is unprecedented.

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