Corruption scandals deepen

5 August 2018

The scandal that has engulfed Peruvian politics continued to deepen last week as audios of conversations surfaced involving prominent Fujiimorista Congressman Héctor Becerril.

When the offices of Fuerza Popular (FP) were intervened by Public Prosecutor José Domingo Pérez on 6 March, Judge César Hinostroza made phone calls trying to obtain the number of Becerril, who was leading the media offensive against the judicial intervention. He was unable to contact the congressman who had spent his time that day dealing with the media. But on 7 May, Hinostroza did communicate with Becerril and they spoke about what they had agreed in written communications.

Weeks later, the accusation was filed against FP over its murky party financing in the 2016 presidential election. The investigation had shown evidence of fake supporters providing extremely large donations.

This came on top of other audios released over the last two weeks in which Hinostroza makes reference to Alberto Fujimori having asked to see him two days after his release from prison. It appears that the judge was not only close to the Fujimoristas but was their go-to guy to solve judicial problems. 

Reactions in Congress were not slow in coming. Becerril’s parliamentary colleague, Ursula Letona, declared that it was no crime to speak to Hinostroza, nor even an ethical problem.

Marisa Glave and Richard Arce from Nuevo Perú, however, said that Becerril should be expelled from the Congress and his immunity rescinded. Glave noted that in the audios Becerril clearly violated the constitutional principles that ensure a division of powers between the legislative and the judiciary. Arce was even more damning, accusing Becerril of being a compulsive liar by having repeatedly denied his ties to Hinostroza.

On this, the opposition to FP had the upper hand, and an investigation against Becerril was admitted on 3 August. Over the next fortnight, the sub-committee on constitutional issues will determine if the law was broken.

Investigations have also been launched against the new Chief Public Prosecutor (Fiscal de la Nación) Pedro Gonzalo Chávarry and the former president of the judiciary, Duberlí Rodríguez. It should be noted that a separate penal investigation against Becerril has already begun; he is accused of influence peddling (tráfico de influencias), a charge which carries a jail sentence.

Calls have continued for Chávarry to resign. The mode of his appointment was highly questionable, but due to the separation of powers he cannot be ousted either by the legislative or the executive.

On 2 August he visited Congress and was received by its new president, the Fujimorista Daniel Salaverry. He was accompanied by an entourage of 15 security guards who prevented the press from asking him questions. Chávarry attended the sub-committee for constitutional accusations that had decided to investigate him. He denied meeting those implicated in the corruption scandal. The most recent audios, however, appear to show the contrary.

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