Peru’s Pedro Castillo gets 36 more months of ‘appropriate and proportionate’ pretrial detention

The former president is accused of being the leader of a criminal organization. This legal decision comes on top of the 18-month preventive prison term for the alleged crime of rebellion

Pedro Castillo prison
Former Peruvian President Pedro Castillo in a screenshot of his virtual hearing last Tuesday.Justicia TV

Two days after flatly denying being the leader of a criminal organization entrenched in the presidential palace during his tenure, Pedro Castillo formally faces a second 36-month term in preventive detention. The measure, according to Judge Juan Carlos Checkley, is “appropriate and proportionate.”

This time Castillo, who is also accused of collusion and influence peddling, was unable to intervene, and he listened to the hearing from Barbadillo prison, where, barring any changes, he will remain until March 8, 2026.

In December, Castillo was slapped with 18 months of preventive detention for the alleged crime of rebellion after his failed self-coup and attempt to install an emergency government.

“There is no impediment to issuing a second order, as it is of a precautionary nature,” said Judge Checkley about his decision. There are three main requirements for this measure: a strong suspicion that a crime was committed; the prison sentence, if found guilty, must be greater than four years; and there must be a high risk that the suspect might skip the country or hinder the investigation. According to the judge, all of it applies to Castillo.

Checkley maintained that there are strong indications that the former president was involved in the purchase of biodiesel for the state-owned oil company Petroperú in order to favor a business called Heaven Petroleum Operators, for which Castillo allegedly received a fee of two million soles (around $530,000). Castillo is also suspected of involvement in an irregular tender for the construction of the Tarata Bridge, in the San Martín region. A guilty verdict would entail a prison sentence of around 32 years.

As for the flight risk, the judge noted that Castillo’s family is no longer in Peru (Mexico granted political asylum to his wife, Lilia Paredes, and their two children) and that it would be easy for him to leave the country, alluding to the fact that Castillo was arrested on December 7 when he was on his way to the Mexican Embassy to seek asylum.

Judge Checkley also mentioned an alleged attempt to intimidate witnesses, after the preliminary arrest of Jorge Ernesto Hernández Fernández, who is accused of coordinating a counterintelligence network orchestrated by Castillo to attack his opponents.

Castillo, for his part, has floated a conspiracy theory that witnesses were paid off to keep him behind bars. “The only crime I have committed is to serve my country as President of the Republic. A tower of crimes has been fabricated using bribed collaborators. I will soon complete 100 days of being wrongfully kidnapped,” said Castillo, who is being held in the Barbadillo prison where Alberto Fujimori, another ex-president, is serving time for corruption and death squad killings.

Peru’s judiciary also issued 36 months of preventive detention against the former Minister of Transportation and Communications Juan Silva, who is a fugitive from justice and thought to be in Bolivia.

Castillo’s arrest and imprisonment led to nationwide protests and clashes with security forces, and forced President Dina Boluarte to announce early elections.

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