Peru attorney general files corruption complaint against president
Peruvian President Pedro Castillo, dressed in typical Andean attire, speaks during a massive rally calling for political and economic stability in Juliaca, Puno region, Peru in December 2021 Carlos MAMANI AFP/File

Peru's attorney general on Tuesday filed a constitutional complaint accusing embattled President Pedro Castillo of criminal organization and corruption, an action that could lead to the suspension of the leftist leader.

Castillo, who has survived two impeachment attempts since taking office in July last year, is already the subject of six criminal investigations.

The president has rejected the accusations and claims they are part of a political plot to unseat him.

"I am filing a constitutional complaint against Jose Pedro Castillo Terrones, in his capacity as President of the Republic, as the alleged perpetrator of crimes against the public peace in the form of a criminal organization aggravated by his position as leader," Attorney General Patricia Benavides wrote in a document posted on Twitter.

The complaint, filed in parliament, also targets two of Castillo's former ministers: ex-transport and communications minister Juan Silva and Geiner Alvarado, who was in charge of housing.

They are suspected of influence peddling and considered to be part of the alleged criminal organization led by the president.

It is the first time a sitting president of Peru has been targeted by such a complaint by an attorney general.

"There is serious evidence of the alleged existence of a criminal organization within the presidential palace with the objective of capturing, controlling and directing procurement processes in order to obtain illicit gains," Benavides said.

It was the "exclusive and full responsibility of Parliament to rule on the constitutional complaint under the United Nations Convention against Corruption," she stressed.

Parliament must examine the complaint in the coming days.

It would take at least 66 votes out of 130 to suspend Castillo, fewer than required for impeachment, and his left-wing parliamentary alliance only has a third of the seats.

Castillo, a former rural schoolteacher, rejected the new accusations as "a coup d'etat" by the attorney general's office.

"We will remain firm despite this political persecution," he said at a press conference with foreign media.

"We currently have a political prosecutor's office which, instead of judging the real criminal networks, does" this.

Castillo, 52, enjoys immunity until the end of his term in July 2026 but he can be investigated.

The head of state is already facing six investigations, including for alleged graft and plagiarization of his university thesis.

Prosecutors on Tuesday also raided the home of one of Castillo's sisters searching for one of her nephews, whom they accuse of belonging to the alleged criminal gang led by the president.

The homes of 12 other people being investigated in the case, including six opposition lawmakers accused of colluding with the government, were also raided.

Five former government advisors were detained for 10 days following the operation.

Peru is no stranger to political instability: it had three different presidents in five days in 2020, and five presidents and three legislatures since 2016.

© 2022 AFP