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Police arrest brother and lawyer of Peru’s president over alleged influence peddling

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LIMA, Peru (AP) — Peruvian authorities arrested President Dina Boluarte’s brother and her lawyer 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 The 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 maneuver that authorities typically reserve for cases they deem highly serious.

Boluarte’s office did not immediately return a request for comment from AP.

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

The president’s 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.

“I am innocent,” Nicanor Boluarte told reporters as he left his house handcuffed and wearing sunglasses, a facemask and a baseball cap. He is the second to last of 12 siblings, and the president is the youngest of all.

Prosecutors accuse Castañeda of interfering with the investigation into Nicanor Boluarte by offering certain benefits to members of the now-disbanded police unit, which focused on tax probes.

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

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

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.”

Following the arrests, Attorney General Juan Villena said on social media that he is evaluating the government’s decision to disband the police unit. That decision was authorized by Interior Minister Walter Ortiz.

Villena added that the disbanded police unit should be regrouped “immediately.”

By FRANKLIN BRICEÑO
Associated Press

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