Thursday, February 2, 2023

Peru: Castillo sought asylum in Mexico, is in jail

LIMA ( Associated Press) – Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said Thursday that he has begun consultations with Peru after former Peruvian President Pedro Castillo requested asylum in Mexico. he stays in jail for seven days Where former President Alberto Fujimori is also serving a prison sentence.

Ebrard said on Twitter that he had spoken with the Mexican ambassador in Lima, Pablo Monroy, who met with Castillo later that afternoon and found him physically fit, in the company of his lawyer. He said the asylum application for Castillo was requested by his attorney, Victor Perez.

In the letter released by Ebrard, it is indicated that Castillo faces unfounded harassment by the justice system. that they have taken on a “political character” and that they intend to prosecute the former president for the crime of sedition “for mere declarations of will that do not constitute any criminal offence.”

The letter, written on Wednesday, said judicial bodies in Peru have created an environment of “extreme defenselessness” for anyone who “thinks differently from the elite group that rules all of the country’s institutions”.

Castillo, who illegally dissolved Congress and was removed from office the day before, will be held in custody at police headquarters for seven days after Judge Juan Checlay ordered Castillo under arrest in a virtual hearing. The President is initially investigated for sedition, a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The arrest was requested by the prosecutor’s office.

Castillo answered the judge’s questions with monosyllables and a broken voice. He was wearing a blue jacket and a dark T-shirt, the same clothes with which he had been arrested the day before. He was accompanied by his former prime minister, law professor Aníbal Torres, and Victor Pérez, who is his lawyer.

Prosecutor Marco Huaman indicated during the hearing that there was a flight risk and said that on the day Castillo was going to the Mexican embassy in Lima to seek asylum and escape to Peru.

Mexican President Andrés López Obrador confirmed on Thursday that Castillo sought passage to his country’s diplomatic headquarters in Lima. “He called the office here to inform me that he was going to the embassy, ​​but of course his telephone had already been tapped, that he was going to request asylum, that if they opened the door for him opened,” he narrated during his daily morning conference call.

The Mexican leader said he asked his Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard, to order the ambassador in Lima to “open the door of the embassy according to our tradition of refuge, but soon they found the embassy occupied with police and civilians.” “Since he was immediately arrested.

Accounts for alleged corruption are pending in the courts for most of the presidents who have ruled Peru in recent decades.

When asked in an interview on public television in June if he feared going to jail, Castillo assured that he would be the exception. “I am sure that from this government there will be no more governments that put people behind bars.”

But the day before, public television showed the handcuffed ex-president boarding a helicopter to police headquarters in eastern Lima.

The President’s prison is different from other prisons in the country and is usually overcrowded with ordinary prisoners. So far, Fujimori, the only prisoner since 2007, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for corruption and is responsible for 25 murders committed during his government (1990–2000).

There are many cells in this jail spread over 10,000 square meters. Occupied only by Fujimori, there is the room where he sleeps, a room for receiving visitors, a full bathroom, a room for painting classes, and a living room. There is another cell, now empty, that was used by former President Ollanta Humala (2011–2016) for about a year between 2017 and 2018.

Several congressmen close to Castillo arrived at police headquarters on Thursday. Legislator Pasion Davila, who met him early, summarized that the former president “is in good health, he is calm, he is lucid.” They said they were now evaluating various options, including “possible asylum” for the former president, but did not provide further details.

on Wednesday and in just three hours Castillo decreed the dissolution of the Peruvian Congress to replace by its vice president, Dina Boluaarte, who called on legislators for a political truce after being sworn in as president and said she would complete her mandate by 2026.

The Congress, the most unpopular institution in Peru, removed him for “permanent moral incapacity”. It was the government’s third attempt in about 17 months to remove them for the same grounds enshrined in the Constitution that experts say lack an objective definition and that Congress has tried to remove presidents more than half a dozen times since 2017.

Earlier, in an unusual message on state television, Castillo had announced the dissolution of Congress and indicated that new legislators would be elected and a new constitution drawn up, an unconstitutional move according to experts. For a president to be able to prorogue Parliament, it is necessary for Congress to censure two cabinets, which did not happen.

Castillo’s televised message reminded many Peruvians of the 1992 “self-coup” led by then-President Fujimori, with the difference that on this occasion Castillo was not supported by the armed forces or the national police, and many of his ministers immediately resigned. resigned. ,

then vice president boluarte It affirmed that the measure only contributed to the escalation of the political crisis in the country and that the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court and the Ombudsman described it as a “coup”.

Public television cameras showed Castillo exiting the presidential palace in a car driving to an undisclosed destination with his escort amid congested Lima traffic, the vehicle slowly moving away.

The video shows how his car was stopped a few blocks from the presidential palace by a group of policemen armed with rifles and taken to a police station in Lima’s historic center where the ombudsman confirmed that his former prime minister had become his lawyer. Had gone.

Several countries, including the United States, criticized Castillo’s decision to dissolve Congress. On Thursday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the “attempt to destroy the democratic system” and called on “parties to respect the rule of law as well as maintain calm and avoid inciting political tensions”.

In turn, Mexican and Bolivian President Luis Arce expressed regret for what happened to Castillo.

Bolivia’s president said a day earlier that Peru’s right from the beginning tried to overthrow “the government democratically elected by the people” and that “anti-democratic actions against progressive, popular and legitimately constituted governments”. The continued oppression of the elite must be condemned by all.” ,

Meanwhile, López Obrador described Castillo’s ouster as a “soft coup” and said Mexico would wait “a few days” to study whether to recognize the new president, Bolluarte.

The Mexican’s words contrasted with the position of one of the politicians López Obrador has always admired, Brazilian Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Brazil’s newly elected president expressed regret that “a democratically elected president should face this fate” but added that he understood that “everything was done within the constitutional framework.” Furthermore, he wished Boluaarte “success in his task of reconciling the country and leading it on the path of development and social peace.”

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Associated Press reporters Maria Verza in Mexico City, Mauricio Savarese in Sao Paulo and Carlos Valdez in La Paz contributed to this report.

Nation World News Desk
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