The former president has now been detained for 36 months awaiting trial on charges including rebellion and organized crime.
A judge in Peru has extended the length of pre-trial detention of former President Pedro Castillo from 18 months to 36 as the disgraced head of state faces charges over his attempt to dissolve Congress and rule by decree in December.
Judge Juan Carlos Checkley ruled on Thursday after an additional investigation announced in February.
Prosecutors at the time formalized plans to investigate Castillo’s brief tenure on charges of influence influence, organized crime and complicity in collusion.
Two of Castillo’s ministers were also implicated in the February announcement, and on Thursday they also received 36 months in pre-trial detention. Among them are ex-minister of transportation Juan Silva and Geiner Alvarado, formerly in charge of housing.
Thursday’s decision could see Castillo in pre-trial detention until March 2026.
While the judge explained that the extended detention was to prevent Castillo from fleeing the country or interfering with the investigation, the ex-president’s lawyer, Eduardo Pachas, said his client was “politically persecuted,” according to El Comercio newspaper. ” became.
Pachas added that Castillo planned to appeal the judge’s decision. Castillo has denied all charges against him, including allegations that he ran a criminal network while in office.
In a statement posted to Twitter on Tuesday, the former president wrote: “I reiterate my innocence regarding the false facts of which I am accused and once again condemn this unjust kidnapping for serving my country loyally as the President of the Republic.”
Castillo has been in custody since December 7, when – on the eve of a third impeachment hearing in the Peruvian Congress – he made a televised statement dissolving the Congress and announcing a “government of exception”.
The move sparked widespread criticism with many calling it a coup d’état. By the end of the day, Congress had voted overwhelmingly to impeach Castillo and remove him from office. He was subsequently arrested by the police.
His former vice president, Dina Boluarte, was quickly sworn in as his replacement.
Castillo’s arrest sparked widespread protests throughout Peru, especially in the rural regions that formed his political stronghold. Originally from the small town of San Luis de Puña in northwestern Peru, Castillo was a black horse candidate in the 2021 presidential race, narrowly beating right-wing rival Keiko Fujimori in a second-round runoff.
The leftist Castillo, a former union organizer and school teacher, campaigned on populist themes, with slogans such as “Only the people will save the people” and “No more poor people in a rich country”.
Since Castillo was removed from office, anti-government protests have gripped Peru, with more than 60 dead and hundreds injured amid clashes with law enforcement. Boluarte and members of her government are currently facing an investigation into their role in the deaths.
The demonstrators, many of them indigenous Peruvians or rural Peruvians, have closed airports, blocked roads and staged marches calling for Castillo’s release, Boluarte’s resignation, new elections and a revised constitution.
Several Latin American leaders have also spoken out in favor of Castillo, including Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Tensions with Peru rose when López Obrador granted asylum to Castillo’s family, later calling Boluarte a “puppet” of oligarchs.
In February, after López Obrador’s comments, Peru withdrew its ambassador to Mexico. It had previously declared Mexico’s ambassador to the country “persona non grata”.
Castillo is charged with rebellion and conspiracy, among other things, for his actions on December 7.
The additional investigation launched in February will look into whether he and members of his administration were also involved in a scheme to award government contracts in exchange for bribes while in office. Congress had passed a constitutional complaint that month allowing the investigation to continue.
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