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Peru court orders ex-President Castillo to remain in custody

December 16, 2022

Prosecutors argued that Pedro Castillo was a flight risk and had attempted to seek asylum in Mexico. Meanwhile, ongoing demonstrations around the country have left 14 people dead.

A protester in Chao, Peru, waving the national flag
Ousted Peruvian President Pedro Castillo will remain in police custody until he faces trialImage: Hugo Curotto/AP/picture alliance

A judge in Peru has ordered ousted President Pedro Castillo to spend 18 months in custody on Thursday amid deadly nationwide protests.

Peru's Supreme Prosecutor Alcides Chinchay argued that Castillo posed a flight risk after he allegedly tried to seek asylum at the Mexican Embassy in the Peruvian capital, Lima.

"We do not believe that he wanted to go to the Mexican Embassy to have tea," Chinchay said.

Castillo's legal team denied the claim that he would flee the country, saying that his children and wife depend on him.

Castillo facing up to 10 years in prison

Castillo and his public defender refused to participate in the hearing, arguing that it lacked "minimum guarantees."

Peru's Congress had previously stripped Castillo of the guarantees that prevent presidents from facing criminal charges.

Pro-Castillo protesters in Lima, Peru
Supporters of Pedro Castillo in Lima and elsewhere have demanded his release from custodyImage: Klebher Vasquez/AA/picture alliance

Chinchay, the supreme prosecutor, said in court on Thursday that Castillo faces at least 10 years in prison if found guilty on charges of rebellion.

Protests continue

Castillo's removal from office has sparked protests around the country. The government declared a state of emergency on Wednesday.

At least 14 people have been killed during the demonstrations, health authorities said.

Castillo strongholds in rural, largely impoverished areas have seen the greatest upheaval. Demonstrates are calling for Castillo's release, the resignation of new President Dina Boluarte, and new elections.

Pro-Castillo protesters in Arequipa, Peru
Protesters have blocked roads around the country, such as in ArequipaImage: Fredy Salcedo/AP/picture alliance

Four airports have been shut down due to the protests and more than 100 roads around the country have been blocked.

Tourists have been left stranded at Machu Picchu after train services were suspended and Alejandro Velasco Astete airport in Cusco was closed.

On Wednesday, Boluarte sought to ease tensions by proposing fresh elections in December 2023, four months earlier than the date she had initially proposed to Congress.

"Peru cannot overflow with blood," she said.

zc/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters)