On 16 January, Richard Concepción Carhuancho, the judge in charge of several Lava Jato cases, was removed from that adjudicating Keiko Fujimori in the case known as the ‘cocktail party case’. This is so called because it revolves around how money illegally obtained from Odebrecht was introduced into her 2011 presidential campaign through the creation of false Peruvian donors. It also involves her father’s former minister, Jaime Yoshiyama. The latter, who is currently in the United States, asked for Concepción Carhuancho to be removed because he questioned his impartiality. The judge was among those who opposed the removal on New Year’s Eve of the two prosecutors involved in the investigation by former Chief Prosecutor Pedro Gonzalo Chávarry.
The decision to dismiss Concepción Carhuancho was taken by three judges who considered that he had a political bias in the case he was overseeing. However, one of the judges, Jessica León Yarango, had previously been questioned because of her ties to the judges accused of corruption in the Callao mafia case, particularly César Hinostroza who escaped to Spain last year and is currently awaiting extradition.
Announcement of Concepción Carhuancho’s dismissal prompted demonstrations in Lima in his support. Moreover, Rafael Vela, the leader of the special prosecutor team investigating Lava Jato, issued an appeal questioning the legality of his dismissal, details of which can be found here.
Further concern has arisen because the judge who replaces Concepción Carhuancho, Elizabeth Arias, had issued a ruling in November 2017 that sought to wind up the investigation into the ‘cocktail party’ case.
The battle for power within the Peruvian judicial system thus continues unabated. Some judges and prosecutors are determined to press ahead in achieving convictions for those accused of corruption, while others are hell-bent on thwarting justice being served.