A judge in Peru is scheduled to decide whether ousted President Pedro Castillo will remain in custody while authorities build a rebellion case against him.
A ruling on Thursday to keep Castillo in detention for up to 18 months would likely ignite further protests. It is to be handed down a day after the government declared a police state as it struggles to calm nationwide protests stemming from Castillo’s ouster by Congress last week.
A virtual hearing took place even though Castillo refused to be served with a notification.
Protesters are demanding Castillo’s release, the resignation of President Dina Boluarte and the immediate scheduling of general elections to pick a new president and replace all members of Congress.
In a renewed effort to placate demonstrators, Boluarte on Wednesday said general elections could potentially be scheduled for December 2023, four months earlier than what she had proposed to Congress on Monday.
Castillo was taken into custody after he was ousted by lawmakers when he sought to dissolve Congress ahead of a third impeachment vote.
At least eight people have died since the demonstrations began on December 7, shortly after Castillo was removed from office. All deaths happened in rural, impoverished communities outside Lima, strongholds for Castillo.
Despite a declaration allowing the armed forces to help maintain public order, no soldiers were on the streets on Thursday in Andahuaylas, where at least four people have died since the demonstrations began.
The state of emergency suspends the freedoms of assembly and movement and empowers the police, supported by the military, to search people’s homes without permission or judicial order.
On Wednesday, Boluarte pleaded for calm as demonstrations continued against her and Congress.
“Peru cannot overflow with blood,” she said.
In the past week, protesters have set fire to police stations, taken over an airstrip used by the armed forces and invaded the runway of the international airport in Arequipa, Peru’s second largest city and a gateway to some of its tourist attractions.
The passenger train that carries visitors to Machu Picchu suspended service, and roadblocks on the Pan-American Highway have stranded trailer trucks for days, spoiling food bound for Lima.