The president of Peru, Pedro Castillo, has remained secretive about the interrogation he held this Friday with the prosecutors who are investigating him, since the end of May, for the crimes of criminal organization, aggravated influence peddling and aggravated collusion. The authorities indicate that he is at the head of a group that allegedly took bribes to favor a consortium in the bidding for a public work of more than 62 million dollars. Leaving the old main office of the Public Ministry, in the center of Lima, the president commented that he felt satisfied and that he was willing to continue collaborating with the investigation. “We are here to show our faces and we will always do so. I am not going to give details because (the case) is in an investigation process, ”he told the local press, which he usually avoids.
The interrogation, which lasted more than three hours, was carried out by the Peruvian Attorney General, Pablo Sánchez, and the coordinating prosecutor for the area of illicit enrichment, Samuel Rojas. Several hours after the interrogation, the content of Castillo’s statements had not been released, although his lawyer told a radio station that the president denied having committed any act of corruption. “The president said that there is no criminal organization to which he belongs,” Benji Espinoza told the Radioprogramas radio station.
A prosecutorial office for corruption of officials and another for money laundering began investigations into this case last year as a result of meetings between Karelim López —an interest manager linked to Fujimorism— with Castillo and with the then secretary general of the presidency. Bruno Pacheco. The businesswoman also visited the Minister of Transport at that time, Juan Silva, in the days before the Puente Tarata III Consortium (formed by the companies HB, Tapusa and Termirex) won said tender to build a million-dollar infrastructure in the San Martín region .
Pacheco, Silva and one of the president’s nephews involved in the plot are fugitives and the Ministry of the Interior has set rewards for their capture. For this same case, six congressmen from the Acción Popular party are also under investigation. When the Prosecutor’s Office identified indications of the irregular award of the tender, the businesswoman López and another interest manager, Zamir Villaverde, offered testimonies to seek a lesser penalty. Villaverde points out that he gave a briefcase with money to then Minister Silva as a thank you from one of the companies of the Puente Tarata consortium. In his terms, they were “one hundred grand”, although he has not specified whether they were 100,000 dollars or soles.
The attorney general had summoned Castillo to testify on Monday the 13th, but the president’s lawyer asked to postpone the proceeding, arguing that he needed more time to review the file. In addition, the Government decreed a holiday for the public sector that day due to the playoff game of the Peruvian team for the World Cup in Qatar. Benji Espinoza, one of the president’s three lawyers, was also awaiting the decision of a constitutional judge whom he has asked to annul the investigation of the head of state.
On Thursday, Judge Juan Carlos Checkley heard the arguments of Supreme Prosecutor Rojas and Attorney Espinoza at a hearing. As he had not notified him of his decision until this Friday, Castillo had to answer the questioning. Last Sunday, the head of state again gave an interview on television after a five-month silence, and announced on state television that he would collaborate with the tax investigation against him. However, the interviewer did not ask him about the contradiction between his statement and the actions of the lawyer Espinoza, who seeks to annul the prosecutor’s investigation.
Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits.
The Prosecutor’s Office indicated, on Friday afternoon, that the three lawyers of Castillo, the staff of the area of illicit enrichment and constitutional accusations of the Public Ministry and the attorney general, María Caruajulca Quispe, participated in the confidential procedure, in defense of the legal interests of the Condition. Caruajulca took office in February of this year to replace Daniel Soria, who denounced Castillo for the crimes of illegal sponsorship and influence peddling due to evidence of corruption in the Tarata Bridge construction contract, revealed by the local press. Lime.
This is the first time that an attorney general has investigated a Peruvian president in office: according to the Constitution, the president can only be accused during his term of treason against the fatherland, for preventing elections, or for impeding the functioning of Congress and the electoral bodies. The interpretation that Prosecutor Sánchez has made is that the Magna Carta does not prevent the investigation from advancing, even more so given “the seriousness and seriousness of the accusations.”
The former attorney general, Zoraida Ávalos, opened a fiscal investigation against Castillo in January for crimes against the public administration, aggravated influence peddling and illegal sponsorship due to the president’s alleged interference in the military promotion process in 2021, but the magistrate left put the investigation on hold so that it can continue when the head of state leaves office. Ávalos then made a different interpretation of the Constitution.