Peru’s top prosecutor launches inquiry into president and top ministers after deadly protests

President Dina Boluarte

Wed January 11, 2023

Peru’s top prosecutor’s office on Tuesday said it has launched an inquiry into new President Dina Boluarte and members of her cabinet over violent clashes that have seen at least 40 killed and hundreds injured since early December.

But on Tuesday night, a vote of confidence in the new administration was passed by a significant plurality in Congress. A defeat would have resulted in the resignation of Prime Minister Alberto Otárola and a reorganization of the cabinet.

The investigation comes following the deadliest day of protests since former President Pedro Castillo was deposed and imprisoned last month, when 17 people were slain in the nation’s southern Puno area. Tuesday saw more violence, which resulted in the death of a police officer whose car had been set on fire.

According to the attorney general’s office, there are allegations of “genocide, qualified homicide, and significant injuries” against Boluarte, Otarola, Defense Minister Jorge Chavez, and Interior Minister Victor Rojas.

Authorities have been accused by human rights organizations of firing weapons at demonstrators and dumping smoke bombs from helicopters. The army claims that demonstrators have utilized explosives and guns.

Additionally, the attorney general’s office declared that it will look into the management of the protests by the two former interior ministers and prime ministers who both worked under Boluarte for only a few weeks each: Pedro Angulo and Cesar Cervantes.

Requests for comment from the president’s and ministers’ offices were not immediately fulfilled.

Castillo was removed from office after making an illegitimate attempt to dissolve Congress, which sparked widespread demonstrations. Boluarte’s resignation, the dissolution of Congress, constitutional amendments, and Castillo’s release are all demands of the protesters.

The constitutionally required vote of confidence, which must be voted after a new prime minister assumes office, was approved with 73 votes in favor, 43 votes against, and 6 abstentions.

Otarola has attributed the deaths on Monday to coordinated attacks funded by “black” money. 75 police officers and 68 more citizens were said to have been hurt.

In an effort to stop the violence, Otarola also made an announcement about a three-day overnight curfew in Puno. Footage from the local media showed the theft of stores in Puno on Monday night, while the Juliaca airport remained closed on Tuesday after 9,000 people allegedly tried to break in.

Tuesday, the Ombudsman’s office in Peru recommended both peaceful demonstrations and a thorough investigation into the killings by the prosecution.

The policeman was killed with “severe violence,” according to the office, who also claimed that he had been tortured before dying. Jose Luis Soncco, the officer, had perished in a burning car following what senior police commander Raul Alfaro described a mob “ambush” in Juliaca.

Alfaro added, “They burned him alive.

Additionally, the office of the Ombudsman denounced an arson attack on a Puno congressman’s home in the city of Ilave while family members were still present, and it urged authorities to adhere to international standards for the use of force.

In a tweet posted on Tuesday, Castillo promised that no one would ever forget the people who died while “defending the country from the coup dictatorship.”

He is being investigated for inciting rebellion, a charge he rejects, and has been ordered to remain in pre-trial prison at this time. The former rural teacher, who was removed from office after less than two years of a five-year tenure, claims he is still Peru’s legitimate leader.

Ally of Castillo the former president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, who was denied entry into Peru on Monday, has also called for an end to the “genocide of our indigenous brothers.”

A mission from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will visit Peru later this week to evaluate the situation. In the interim, the United Nations has urged adherence to human rights and offered to mediate the situation.

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