Peru president to face collusion investigation after term ends

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Handout picture released y the Peruvian Presidency showing President Pedro Castillo being questioned by prosecutors over alleged interference in military promotions, at the Government Palace in Lima, on December 28, 2021 (AFP/-)
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  • Pedro Castillo
    President of Peru

Peruvian prosecutors said on Tuesday that they will investigate President Pedro Castillo when his term ends for the alleged crimes of influence peddling, collusion and illegal sponsorship.

Attorney general Zoraida Avalos Rivera "opened a preliminary investigation" into the president "for allegedly committing the crimes" of aggravated influence peddling, as perpetrator, and collusion, as participant, the agency said in a statement.

But the proceedings will be suspended until Castillo's five-year term ends in 2026, as the president has "absolute immunity that transcends the scope of criminal proceedings" in Peru.

The investigations will focus on three cases. In the first, Castillo is accused of allegedly having "intervened -- inappropriately and indirectly" in a public bidding process for the construction of a vehicular bridge over the Huallaga River in the San Martin region of northern Peru.

In the second, the body is investigating him for allegedly having intervened in a process for the acquisition of Biodiesel B100 in the local market for the period January-April 2022, "with the aim that the company Heaven Petroleum Operator, led by the businessman Samir Abudayeh, wins a contract for the sum of $74 million".

The third case concerns alleged undue pressure by the president to promote military officers sympathetic to the leftist government.

The prosecutor's office could charge him with "the crimes of influence peddling and illegal sponsorship".

Castillo was questioned last week by the prosecutor's office for allegedly pressuring army and air force chiefs to favour some officers in the annual promotion process.

The agency opened the case on November 11 against the then-defence minister, Walter Ayala, and presidential secretary, Bruno Pacheco, for the same case.

Castillo, in power since July 28, narrowly defeated right-wing Keiko Fujimori on the ballot.

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