The sister-in-law of the President of Peru, Yenifer Paredes, at the Congress Oversight Commission, in Lima, in 2022.EL COMERCIO / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACTOPHOTO
Pretrial detention has become common currency in Peruvian politics in the last decade. This Sunday night, a judge has ordered 30 months of that restriction for Yenifer Paredes, sister-in-law of President Pedro Castillo and younger sister of the first lady. The Public Ministry is investigating her for being the alleged manager of the interests of a group that took advantage of her links with the head of state and ministers to award public works contracts to front companies by finger. The measure, the judge pointed out, is to counteract the risk of flight and obstruction of justice in the case of the 26-year-old who lived intermittently in the Government Palace since July 2021, when the rural teacher assumed the presidency.
The preliminary investigation judge Johnny Gómez Balboa ordered preventive detention for Paredes and a friend of Castillo -the mayor of a district in the Cajamarca region, José Medina- after several days of sessions of more than eight hours a day, in which the Prosecutor Jorge García presented evidence on how relatives of the head of state, mayors, ministers and people close to the presidential environment colluded to use public resources in his favor between August 2021 and June of this year.
Castillo is being investigated for six cases of corruption in office, and in July the Public Ministry formed a team dedicated to investigating the circle closest to the head of state. The hypothesis of the prosecutors is that the president heads an organization that was introduced into the state apparatus to benefit from rigged contracts for public works, or from the collection of bribes for military and police promotions. Since the beginning of the Government, the Peruvian president has faced two congressional motions to dismiss him, and due to the tax investigations, the opposition once again intends to remove him from office or suspend him.
The president’s sister-in-law is being investigated for alleged money laundering (money laundering) and for being part of the criminal organization that organized “fraudulent public tenders,” said Judge Gómez at the beginning of the four-hour hearing. For the magistrate, there is well-founded suspicion that Paredes used his “links with the upper echelons of power, the link with the first lady and the president” to attract mayors- to whom he assured the viability and speed of public works, as long as when they entrusted the consultancies for the technical files to two front companies of the brothers Hugo and Anggi Espino, mayor Medina’s front men.
Paredes had been in preliminary detention since August 10, she turned herself in a day after prosecutor Hans Aguirre and an intelligence policeman went to the Government Palace to look for her with an arrest warrant. The order could not be executed because the president prevented them from accessing until their lawyers arrived. After an hour and 15 minutes, the first lady’s younger sister was no longer there.
In reading the preventive detention resolution, the judge indicated that Paredes made 28 cash deposits between October of last year and June, for 91,970 soles (24,000 dollars) in a banking agency near the Government Palace, “without being able to identify an activity that generates such funds”. In a congressional appearance in July, Castillo’s sister-in-law said she had odd jobs and earned about $540 a month. The Prosecutor’s Office has requested an impediment to leave the country for 36 months for the first lady and her brothers David and Walter, because she authorized the entry of Hugo Espino to the Government Palace and because the president’s brothers-in-law also made deposits in the accounts of the alleged figureheads Espino. The hearing on the restriction measure will be on September 5.
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Despite the investigations, a survey released this Sunday records an increase of five points in Castillo’s approval compared to the beginning of the month. 29% of Peruvians are satisfied with his performance, while 8% approve of Congress, according to the survey by the Institute of Peruvian Studies.
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