Judicial corruption laid bare

18 August 2018

The scale of judicial corruption in Peru has become ever clearer over the last few weeks. The leaked transcripts of taped conversations involving senior members of the judiciary laid bare details of decisions being made for favours, monetary and other. Subsequent police investigation to which the leaked audios gave rise has provided further evidence of brazen corruption, as indeed have the judicial procedures that are now being rolled out against some of those implicated.

Arguably the most notorious case has been that of the High Court in the port of Callao, whose ex-president Walter Ríos Montalvo was filmed with some of those who paid him for the judicial verdicts they wanted. The audio and video evidence clearly shows Ríos Montalvo meeting and phoning the lawyers and those implicated in the cases before the court, asking for money in exchange for favourable judicial rulings. They also show him going to hotels with women who worked at the court and using them for sexual favours in return for promises of promotion.

Prosecutor Rocío Sánchez Saavedra, who leads the investigation in Callao, has asked for 36 months imprisonment on remand for those accused. On 17 August, the court suspended the session for the next day when each of the accused will be allowed to intervene. They are accused of a series of crimes, including belonging to organised mafias, bribery, and embezzlement. As we pointed out last week, Sánchez is herself under pressure from the new Chief Public Prosecutor for having helped bring the case to public notice.

It has also come to light that some of those indicted on corruption charges during Alberto Fujimori’s period in office (1990-2000) have used connections with corrupt judges to dodge payment of reparations. Brothers Samuel and Mendel Winter, who were found guilty of participating in Fujimori’s propaganda machine, had their civil reparation payments of US$4 million dollars each lifted by Judge César Hinostroza. Hinostroza is at the centre of the corruption scandals revealed by the audio tapes. Former Finance Minister Carlos Boloña, also accused of corruption during the Fujimori years, last March asked for his reparation payment to be rescinded as well.

There are reportedly many, many more audio tapes waiting to be transcribed and published. So more details are likely to emerge, increasing public demand for root-and-branch reform of the way the Peruvian judiciary works.

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    The Peru Support Group exists to promote social inclusion, sustainable development and the observance of human rights in Peru. To that end the PSG highlights shortcomings in observance of established norms, whether international or local in nature, in its research, advocacy and publications. In so doing, it underscores the relationships that exist within the political system, how institutions work, and the effectiveness of policies that aim to reduce poverty and inequality within the context of sustainable development.

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