Garcia in the judicial spotlight

07 October 2017

It was a week in which the accusations about misdeeds in government came closer to identifying Alan García, twice former president, as the corruption king-pin.

Public Prosecutor (fiscal) José Antonio Castellanos announced on 3 October that he had extended his investigation into asset laundering by the former president and a group of close confidantes for a further 36 months. He did so claiming that García was the head of a widespread criminal network.

This “criminal organisation” as Castellano described it involves 31 named persons with three levels of collaborators. Apart from García himself, the names mentioned in the top level involve four former ministers in his second government (Hernán Garrido Lecca, Aurelio Pastor, José Antonio Chang and Luis Nava) and the former first lady, Pilar Nores. The second level involves ten named people, and the third a further 15.

García, who has been dextrous in the past in circumventing corruption allegations, was not slow in using Twitter to say that the fiscal’s announcement was both abusive and politically-motivated. He was particularly cross that his estranged wife was included in the list of criminal associates.

Responding to the García Twitter offensive, Pablo Sánchez, the chief public prosecutor (Fiscal de la Nación), defended the role of Castellanos. “I think that the fiscal has done a great work of investigation” he said, “we the fiscales do not do politics”.

According to Castellanos those involved in this criminal ring had all the traits of a mafia-style organisation: “the capacity to keep silent, punish all acts of betrayal, to have a sort of code of honour typical of famous criminal organisations”. The 30-page document, viewed by members of the press, refers to corruption perpetrated both under García’s first (1985-90) and second (2006-11) governments. In particular, it mentions the contacts with Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction giant at the centre of the current Lava Jato investigations. 

A number of enquiries into García’s financial affairs have been mounted in recent years but have failed to produce any sort of conviction. The so-called Mega-Commission, established in 2011, pointed to a number of irregularities, but in 2014 García achieved a court ruling (amparo) invalidating its findings. Judicial proceedings, initiated by the then Fiscal de la Nación in 2013, were subsequently abandoned. Then, more recently, new evidence surfaced as to the use of bribery of top officials by Odebrecht to secure the Lima metro construction contract. These are currently under investigation.

The accusations against García have given new salience to the claim that the judiciary acted unfairly in arresting and then detaining former president Ollanta Humala and his wife Nadine Heredia for 18 months while investigations are carried out into how they funded their 2006 and 2011 election campaigns. While Nadine Heredia used her Facebook account to point this out, the claim was echoed by the influential columnist Augusto Alvarez Rodrich in La República.

The role of Keiko Fujimori is now also likely to come under closer judicial scrutiny. However the majority of Fuerza Popular (FP) in Congress will offer her political cover. It remains to be seen how the judiciary, with its own poor reputation with respect to corruption, will respond.

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