Peru’s Public Prosecutor’s Office has called for the preventive arrest of the secretary general of the ruling Peru Livre party for an alleged crime of corruption. Vladimir Cerrón accuses being a victim of lawfare – political and judicial persecution. The supporters of Free Peru called a demonstration for this Wednesday (1) in support of Cerrón.
Prosecutor Mary Huamán asked Vladimir Cerrón for 2 years and 11 months of imprisonment and political disqualification, accusing him of embezzling public funds when he ruled the state of Junín between 2011 and 2014.
The doctor and leader of the Free Peru Party was re-elected in the first round in 2019, however he was suspended from office accused of corruption in the La Oroya case, which in 2021 was overturned by the courts. Another seven former employees are also accused by the Peruvian MP.
The new indictment claims that Cerrón would have appointed trusted people to key positions in the Junín government to manage the budget for certain projects. Mary Huamán claims that the irregularity is in altering the budgets of some works, taking funds from one project and directing them to another. However, it does not present evidence of the allegation of misuse of public funds.
“We are going to prove that the accused issued a resolution modifying the construction budget, materializing the crime of embezzlement of funds,” declared Huamán.
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The Peru Livre party called a demonstration in downtown Lima against the judicialization of politics and in support of its secretary general.
Since Congress granted the vote of confidence to President Pedro Castillo’s cabinet on Friday (27), the pressure against his party has increased. On Saturday (28), regional offices of Peru Livre were searched by the police after issuing a search and seizure warrant that accused alleged irregularities in the financing of the last electoral campaign.
In a statement, the party claims that it is a “disproportionate and irrational measure”, reiterating that Free Peru emerged as a movement in 2008 and only managed to register voters after four years of collecting signatures.
“Enough of the harassment and threats to the new government and the party that supports it. Down with political persecution”, they publish.
Deputy Jaime Quito (Free Peru) reiterated that there is a “demonization campaign” of his political organization soon after the government receives congressional support and decides to transfer Vladimiro Montesinos, former adviser to dictator Alberto Fujimori, from a naval base to a maximum security prison.
Montesinos was sentenced to 25 years in prison for crimes against humanity during the Fujimorist regime and was one of the Peruvian right-wing figures who staged a coup d’état to prevent the rise of Pedro Castillo.
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The La Oroya Case
Two years ago, Vladimir Cerrón had been sentenced for “incompatible negotiation and use of office” in the sanitation works in the Oroya region. According to the indictment, Cerrón’s administration had facilitated the contract with the Altiplano construction company. The current secretary general of Free Peru stated that all bids were awarded with follow-up by state prosecutors, therefore, they were in accordance with the law.
At the time, in addition to losing his position, he was penalized with a fine of 850,000 soles (about R$ 1 million) and sentenced to 4 years and 8 months in prison. In June of this year, the sentence was overturned by the Peruvian justice.
“There are no witnesses, documents or evidence of any other nature that proves that Vladimir Cerrón was the beneficiary of any undue payment by the Altiplano Consortium, so the responsibility established without evidence implies condemning without complying with the requirement of the innocence hypothesis”, he argues the sentence signed by Judge Alaín Salas Cornejo.
Pedro Castillo has just completed a month at the helm of the country’s presidency and is already facing a series of reprisals against his cabinet, starting with the resignation of Chancellor Hector Béjar, followed by the accusation of alleged ties to terrorism by Prime Minister Guido Bellido, and now the campaign against the Free Peru party.
Edition: Arturo Hartmann