Prosecutors in Peru seek 34-year sentence for ex-President Castillo

Former President Pedro Castillo is accused of ‘carrying out a coup’ after he attempted to dissolve Congress in 2022.

Former Peruvian President Pedro Castillo
Former President Pedro Castillo, speaks to supporters during a rally in Lima in 2021 [File: Sebastian Castaneda/Reuters]

Peru’s prosecutor’s office has formally requested 34 years in prison for former President Pedro Castillo, who was dramatically removed from office and arrested after his attempt to dissolve Congress in late 2022.

Castillo, whose removal sparked off months of deadly protests that hit the key mining sector in the copper-rich country, remains in pre-trial detention.

On Friday, the public prosecution office wrote on social media that it sought the jail term for “crimes of rebellion, abuse of authority and serious disturbance of public peace”.

In the request presented to the court, Castillo is accused of “carrying out a coup d’etat”.

Castillo, a former teacher from rural Peru, elected in 2012, was the first leader of the Andean nation with no ties to the elites and was hailed as the country’s first poor president.

Once he took up the position, the leftist leader was locked in a power struggle with the opposition-led Congress and was accused by the attorney general of leading a criminal organisation involving his family and allies that handed out public contracts for money.

Before his removal in December 2022, Castillo said the plan to “temporarily” dissolve Congress was to “reestablish the rule of law and democracy” in the country.

However, opposition politicians said the decision went against Peru’s constitution, and Congress voted overwhelmingly to remove him from the country’s top position.

Castillo has argued that he was the victim of a political conspiracy between the right-wing opposition and the attorney general.

“I never took up arms,” he has told court hearings since his arrest.

Castillo was replaced by his vice president, Dina Boluarte, who faced protests as some called for her to step down and hold an early election.

A crackdown by security forces killed about 50 people, according to an estimate by Human Rights Watch, which accused Peruvian authorities of extrajudicial and arbitrary killings.

While Boluarte is facing a probe over the deaths of the protesters, she maintains immunity until her term ends in 2026.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies