The battle for the judiciary

1 September 2018

Investigation into the corruption scandals in Callao, the so-called ‘white collars of the port’, continues apace despite the fact that the judiciary is now apparently controlled by those under investigation.

The Chief Public Prosecutor (Fiscal de la Nación), Pedro Gonzalo Chávarry, has been named by a protected witness as the person chosen by the mafia to take control of the judiciary to ensure that the investigations stall. Antonio Camayo, who is currently in jail facing trial, gave evidence on 31 August stating that he had been involved in ensuring that the previous Chief Public Prosecutor, Pablo Sánchez, would not be re-elected. 

Chávarry responded with a video posted on YouTube in which he accused his subalterns of trying to sully his name with a view to derailing his work in fighting corruption. Chávarry said he had 32 years of experience and was preparing new accusations of corruption. He maintains that those close to the government want to silence him and remove him from his post. 

Few believe Chávarry’s version, and opinion polls released last week show that 89% of those consulted said they thought that the judiciary had been taken over by the mafia. Congressman Gino Costa has indicated that while Chávarry has indeed long experience in the prosecutor’s office, he cut his teeth under the tutelage of none other than Vladimiro Montesinos. Montesinos, the jailed former strongman of the Fujimori regime, played a key role in the 1990s in corrupting the judiciary. 

Corruption in the judiciary in Callao came to light in a series of leaked phone conversations involving not only members of the local judiciary but key members of the now suspended Consejo Nacional de la Magistratura (CNM) which controls judicial appointments. These tapes suggest close connections between corrupt judges and leading members of Fuerza Popular, the majority grouping in Congress led by Keiko Fujimori. One of the tapes referred to meetings involving a “Sra K”. Fujimori, whose party is at the centre of accusations about illegal campaign funding in the 2016 elections, denies that this refers to her.

The battle over the judiciary takes place as crucial investigations are pursued into organised crime, drug trafficking and illegal campaign financing. The date for the review of Alberto Fujimori’s case (the legality of the presidential pardon given to him last December) has now been set for 21 September. The judges will have to evaluate whether his pardon is an impediment to the families of the victims in achieving justice. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled in May that the Peruvian government had to make this assessment in the Peruvian courts. 

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