Juan Carlos Checkley, preparatory investigation magistrate of the Supreme Court, rejected the protection of the president's rights. According to its resolution, waiting for his mandate to end to investigate him could “carry impunity”.
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President Pedro Castillo walked to the Public Ministry. (photo: GEC)
The Judiciary has given the green light to the Public Ministry, for now, to preliminarily investigate an acting President of the Republic. The Preparatory Investigation Court of the Supreme Court declared unfounded the protection of rights presented by Pedro Castillo to annul the preliminary investigation initiated by the Attorney General's Office.
This way, the president can continue to be questioned. Meanwhile, his defense will appeal the decision.
🚨 Juzgado Supremo de Investigación Preparatoria declara infundada tutela de derechos presentada por el presidente, Pedro Castillo por presunta violación a los principios constitucionales de legalidad procesal y al principio de seguridad jurídica. pic.twitter.com/96idfB0lg6
— Poder Judicial Perú (@Poder_Judicial_) June 23, 2022
The resolution, like much of what surrounds the Pedro Castillo case, is historic. It is the first in the judicial field that deals with the controversy regarding the possibility of investigating an acting president for acts allegedly committed during his mandate. It was issued this Thursday by Judge Juan Carlos Checkley after more than a week of the hearing in which he heard the arguments of the president's defense and the prosecution.
Pedro Castillo in official activity
The document summarizes the positions of both parties and the court's analysis. For the defense, article 117 of the Constitution and its mention that a president cannot be accused during his term – except for specific reasons – prevents a preliminary investigation from being initiated. For this, he cited decisions of previous prosecutors of the Nation on other acting leaders.
Meanwhile, the prosecution argued that this article must be compatible with other parts of the Constitution that highlight the need to defend legality and punish corruption. Along these lines, he maintained that the accusations against Pedro Castillo are serious, have no precedent and justify the need to initiate a preliminary investigation to clarify the facts.
Yes, it can be investigated
The judge then developed his analysis of the case. In his opinion, the Constitution does not establish a “presidential immunity”: a president can commit crimes, so the discussion focuses on whether these can be investigated during his term.
The resolution was signed by Juan Carlos Checkley, provisional supreme judge of the Preparatory Investigation Court of the Supreme Court.
Later, he affirmed that the Magna Carta refers only to the impossibility of presenting a constitutional accusation before Congress against the president and that, consequently, the prosecution formalize a preparatory investigation during his term. However, he considered that this does not prevent the Public Ministry from carrying out preliminary proceedings or a preliminary investigation.
“The prosecutor's office could not formalize a preparatory investigation against the President of the Republic during his term –except in the cases of exception contemplated in the aforementioned article 117–, since a constitutional accusation of criminal content could not be previously issued against him; but […] it can carry out a preliminary investigation, when the circumstances and indications justify it”, he asserted.
The judge also concluded that Waiting for the presidential term to end to just start the preliminary investigation “could lead to impunity.”
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“The risk is greater if, as the prosecution has argued, there would be an alleged criminal organization entrenched in the State, whose alleged leader or ringleader and several of its members would still continue to hold public office […] that they could use. to try to eliminate evidence of crimes”, the magistrate warned.
The judge also affirmed that, unlike previous presidents in office, the accusations against Pedro Castillo are more serious for being attributed to lead a criminal organization in the State, “with the consequent risk that this would mean for the democratic system and the rule of law, in addition to the possibility that the alleged organization eliminates evidentiary evidence.”
In addition, he pointed out that there is not “a simple syndication” against the president, but that “sufficient indicative elements are presented regarding the serious crimes to which it is linked.” It even contemplated that Pablo Sánchez is justified in having made a different decision from that of Zoraida Ávalos regarding Pedro Castillo, since “the urgency of carrying out the preliminary investigation has been justified”
Finally, Juan Carlos Checkley clarifies in his resolution that he has not ruled on whether or not it is feasible to grant a “coercive or limiting measure” during this preliminary investigation.