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Peru president’s brother and lawyer arrested over alleged influence peddling

Peru president’s brother and lawyer arrested over alleged influence peddling
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Peruvian authorities arrested both President Dina Boluarte’s brother and lawyer on Friday over influence-peddling accusations, a day after the South American country’s government disbanded a police unit that assisted prosecutors in investigating the president’s inner circle.

A judge signed off on the arrests, according to a copy of the warrant obtained by Associated Press. The document accuses the president’s sibling of working to appoint government officials in exchange for money and an agreement to gather signatures to register a political party.

The developments mark the latest step in mounting pressure on Boluarte, who became president in December 2022, when she replaced then-president Pedro Castillo. He was dismissed by parliament and is now imprisoned while being investigated for alleged corruption and rebellion.

The warrant also granted the prosecutors’ request to keep both men incommunicado for 10 days, a legal manoeuvre that authorities typically reserve for cases they deem highly serious.

A police officer stands guard as a search is conducted at the home of Nicanor Boluarte, brother of Peruvian President Dina Boluarte, in Lima on Friday. Photo: AFP

Local television stations showed images of the arrests of Nicanor Boluarte and Mateo Castaneda. The Attorney General’s Office later confirmed their arrests on social media.

The president’s older brother faces charges of conspiracy and influence peddling for allegedly appointing prefects – local officials who track social conflicts in remote areas – in exchange for money and the gathering of signatures to register the Citizens for Peru party.

Meanwhile, prosecutors accuse Castaneda of interfering with the investigation against Nicanor Boluarte, 64, by offering certain benefits to members of the now-disbanded police unit, which focused on tax probes.

Before his arrest, Castaneda had advised President Boluarte in an investigation into her use of luxury watches and fine jewellery she did not list in a mandatory asset declaration form.

It was not immediately clear whether either man had lawyers who could comment on their behalf.

Anti-government protesters hold signs critical of President Dina Boluarte and lawmakers in Lima, Peru, on May 1. Photo: AP

Prosecutors, according to the warrant, allege the purpose of the conspiracy was to “obtain economic resources and recruit members to finance” and set up the “Citizens of Peru” political party, which would then “be used as a platform to maintain power in the state apparatus and, thereby, obtain illicit profits”.

Peru’s attorney general’s office said it was now looking into a potential abuse of authority by President Boluarte and Interior Minister Walter Ortiz for dissolving the police unit.

A spokesman for the president told a press conference on Friday evening that the police unit had been dissolved for failure to comply with administrative norms and that the government respected the laws and judicial autonomy.

The decision to disband the police unit was authorised by Ortiz.

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