Peru’s Public Ministry seeks 34-year sentence for former President Pedro Castillo

By January 17, 2024

Lima, Peru — Peru’s Public Ministry filed criminal charges last week against former President Pedro Casillo for attempting to dissolve Congress on December 7, 2022, and is seeking a 34-year prison sentence for the crimes of rebellion, abuse of authority and public disturbance.

Additionally, for the same rebellion case, a 25-year prison term has been requested for former Prime Minister Betssy Chávez, who is currently in pretrial detention; and a 15-year prison sentence for former Prime Minister Aníbal Torres, who, during the coup, worked as an advisor to the Council of Ministers.

Pretrial detention has also been requested for former ministers Roberto Sánchez (Foreign Trade and Tourism) and Willy Huerta (Interior), as well as three police officers involved. The Public Ministry proposed 25-year prison sentences for all of them.

According to the prosecutors’ thesis, those involved in the failed coup of December 2022 sought to illegally dissolve Congress and take control of the judiciary to establish an “exceptional emergency government.” However, the coup failed, and Castillo was impeached and captured within hours. Castillo is currently being held in pretrial detention.

Furthermore, the Public Ministry has argued that President Castillo’s speech, in which he announced the state of exception on national television, was drafted by him, Chávez, and Torres on the night and early morning before the failed coup.

Pedro Castillo with Aníbal Torres and Betssy Chávez. Image courtesy Peru’s Government.

One of the first to respond to the criminal accusation was former President Castillo, who wrote on his “X” account that he is innocent and that the charges against him are revenge from “conspirators.”

“The conspirators who carried out the coup against my government, detaining me and unconstitutionally impeached me on December 7, 2022, today celebrate and rejoice after the announcement by their political partner, the Public Ministry, regarding their criminal accusation against me and other co-defendants, requesting sentences of 34, 25, and 15 years in prison for crimes we have not committed,” he tweeted.

Likewise, Betssy Chávez’s lawyer, Raúl Noblecilla, stated on RPP that there is no guarantee in the trial against his client.

“There is no democratic basis in this process. Here in Peru, Betssy Chávez, President Pedro Castillo, and all others being investigated are not being prosecuted with democratic guarantees and respect for their fundamental rights,” he said.

On January 15, the Judiciary announced that the appeal hearing, evaluating whether former President Castillo will continue to be investigated for rebellion and conspiracy, has been rescheduled for January 22. Castillo’s legal defense argues that the actions attributed to him do not constitute a crime.