Manuel Merino: the arguments of the constitutional complaint that was filed in Congress

Manuel Merino: the arguments of the constitutional complaint that was filed in Congress

The complaint filed by the Attorney General's Office sought to lift the preliminary hearing against the former president and his former ministers Antero Flórez Aráoz and Gastón Rodríguez. The three were investigated for the deaths of Inti Sotelo and Bryan Pintado, as well as the injuries of dozens of protesters.

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Manuel Merino: the arguments of the constitutional complaint filed in Congress

Manuel Merino is being denounced for deaths during marches against him. (Photos: EFE)

The Subcommittee on Constitutional Accusations (SAC) of Congress sent this Friday to the archive the constitutional complaint filed by the Attorney General's Office against former Governor Manuel Merino, his former Prime Minister Antero Flores-Aráoz and his former Minister of the Interior Gastón Rodríguez Limo. The three were being investigated in connection with the deaths of Inti Sotelo and Bryan Pintado in the protests on November 14, 2020.

The decision of the SAC was given after the support of a report made by Congressman Alejandro Cavero (Avanza País) that recommended filing the complaint. In his opinion, the deaths of both young people were unfortunate, but that it was not the responsibility of the defendants. He also maintained that the responsibility of the PNP is not proven.

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This conclusion was approved by a majority: 8 votes in favor and 7 against. The vote of Rosío Torres, congresswoman of Alianza Para el Progreso and president of the SAC, was decisive and served to tip the balance in favor of the file. In this way, the Public Ministry will not be able to continue investigating Manuel Merino for these events.

This was the subcommission session:

What did the constitutional complaint say?

The complaint was presented to Congress on October 4, 2021 by the office of Zoraida Ávalos, then the Nation's prosecutor. It was the result of the preliminary investigation initiated against Manuel Merino and his former ministers by the head of the Public Prosecutor's Office given their status as protected or their 'immunity'. In parallel, a provincial prosecutor's office is already prosecuting Police officers who do not have that condition and are implicated in the deaths and injuries.

The preliminary investigation and subsequent complaint against Manuel Merino and the rest was as alleged perpetrators of the crime of homicide against Inti Sotelo and Bryan Pintado, and serious and minor injuries against others. The next step would have been the formalization of the investigation and the beginning of the judicial process against those involved before the Supreme Court, but for this the consent of Congress was needed. These were the main points of the constitutional complaint that was presented for that purpose. , but was archived.

1. Context of human rights violation

Within the development of his complaint, the prosecution recounts the facts related to the vacancy of Martín Vizcarra, the assumption of Manuel Merino as president, the protests against him and the subsequent repression. From this, it was also recalled that organizations such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the British Embassy in Peru expressed their concern about the excessive use of force by the Police.

Manuel Merino: the arguments of the constitutional complaint that was filed in Congress

Statements by the interim Ombudsman, Eliana Revollar, on the new process to elect the head of the entity in Congress. (Video: Channel N)

The prosecution then explains that “we are facing a context of human rights violations when State officials, who are primarily responsible for protecting, promoting and guaranteeing the rights of their members through their different powers and levels of government, fail to comply with said duty by attempting to directly or indirectly against such.”

With this in mind, it is concluded that the events that occurred in the protests from November 9 to 14, 2020 “they occurred in a context of human rights violations, insofar as said results were produced as a direct consequence of the intervention of police agents who would have acted in an evident disproportionate use of public force.”

Remembering that Manuel Merino was president, Antero Flores Aráoz was prime minister and Gastón Rodríguez was minister of the interior, it is noted that it was them “who by mandate constitutionally and legally, it was up to them to guarantee and protect the fundamental (human) rights of the demonstrators.”

Manuel Merino: the arguments of the constitutional complaint that was filed in Congress

The report that recommended filing the complaint against Manuel Merino was prepared by Congressman Alejandro Cavero, of Avanza País . (Photo: GEC file)/

It is with this that the prosecution then maintains that these events occurred “in a context of human rights violations, having been allegedly committed by the action, omission or lack of diligence on the part of State officials.”

2. They did not prevent the excessive use of force

Based on the analysis of the context, statements and documents obtained in the preliminary investigation, the prosecution points out that the defendants -within their roles as high-ranking officials- had a “dominant position and material capacity” against the actions of the police to repress the proposals.

However, the three “would have carried out behaviors that implied a lack of intervention in the face of said actions (…) which finally led to to the death of two citizens and the production of physical injuries (many of them serious), of others, at least 78 citizens who participated in said social mobilizations.”

Manuel Merino: the arguments of the constitutional complaint that was filed in Congress

Statements by the President of the Judiciary, Elvia Barrios, after the Council for the Reform of the Justice System . (Video: Channel N)

This happened, says the Public Ministry, despite calls from multilateral organizations and the inter-American system for the protection of human rights to make a “proportionate use of public force in the control and repression of mobilizations; the same ones that were not observed at the time by the defendants.”

3. The weapons and projectiles behind the deaths

The document then indicates that the actions of the Police in the face of the protests were in charge of the Lima Police Region and it is recorded that the agents used gas-launching shotguns and hunting shotguns as weapons; while as material they used chemical agents and non-lethal ammunition. Within the latter, rubber pellets were used.

Then the death certificate of Inti Sotelo is cited, where he realizes that it was due to a “penetrating chest wound caused by a pellet firearm projectile”; as well as the expert opinion made by the Public Ministry, where it is indicated that a lead pellet, component of a shotgun cartridge, weighing 3.8 grams and 0.88 mm, was extracted from her. measure.

Manuel Merino: the arguments of the constitutional complaint that was filed in Congress

Police reports on weapons and ammunition consigned in the constitutional complaint.

With this, the prosecution indicates that it was scientifically determined that what caused his death was a lead shot fired at his body through a shotgun, the same type of weapon used by the different police units that were in charge of the control of the demonstrations on November 14, 2020.

Regarding Bryan Pintado, his autopsy certificate indicates that he died of internal bleeding-laceration of descending aorta, and sustained ten penetrating buckshot wounds: 4 to the head, 2 to the neck, 2 to the chest, and 2 to the right arm.

The pellets had “trajectory from right to left, from top to bottom, without short-range firing characteristics”. With this, the prosecution established that it was also scientifically determined that the death of the 22-year-old was due to these projectiles that were fired “with a 'shotgun' or similar weapon”, a weapon that was used that day by the police.

Manuel Merino: the arguments of the constitutional complaint filed in Congress

4. Deaths could be prevented

Based on a series of testimonies, the prosecution indicates that the three defendants were “fully and permanently informed” of the operations deployed in the face of the protests and how they were being carried out in the country. They also had “privileged information on their development”, how they were intensifying and “how the forces of order were deploying their actions against said mobilizations”.

It is even noted that Antero Flores Aráoz himself admitted a conversation of his in which he admitted knowing about the production of the demonstrations and that they were being broadcast with “too much prominence” by the State channel. It is also aware of reports from the National Intelligence Directorate (DINI) sent reports to the Presidency and the PCM about the risk of the conflict escalating.

With this, the prosecution considered that the defendants “were aware that their functions allowed them to have control over the actions of their subordinates and control them to avoid a result that was harmful to the legal rights, life and physical integrity of the citizenry; however, despite having the material capacity to exercise them, they did not do so.”

Manuel Merino: the arguments of the constitutional complaint that was filed in the Congress

Ántero Flores Aráoz was included by role as prime minister during the government of Manuel Merino. (Photo: Andina)

“They acted with eventual intent in the omissions attributed to them, since (…) they were aware of the social demonstrations that had been taking place in the country, since November 9, 2020, since this event was communicated by the media national and international communication. Furthermore, there were calls and exhortations directed 'to the Peruvian State', represented by them, to order the cessation of the indiscriminate use of public force because in this context unfortunate outcomes were easily foreseeable”, argued the prosecution.

< h2 class="intertitle__title">5. The imputation

With everything developed, the National Prosecutor's Office established this specific accusation against Manuel Merino, Antero Flores Aráoz and Gastón Rodríguez Limo: being alleged perpetrators of the commission by omission of the crime of homicide, serious injuries and minor injuries, by way of eventual fraud . This is because, based on their positions, they had “the duty of protection and special action” against the life and physical integrity of the protesters.

Manuel Merino: the arguments of the constitutional complaint filed in Congress

Statements by the President of Congress, María del Carmen Alva. (Video: Canal del Congreso)

Also because, due to the high positions they held, they had a dominant position over the police, and –because of how they had been developing the protests- “it was foreseeable and reasonable” that they deploy disproportionate actions through the use of weapons with pellets, tear gas and others.

“However, no measures were taken to control or mitigate said actions, and on the contrary, they were allowed to continue with them, which resulted in two deaths and 78 citizens identified to date, with minor and serious injuries, who participated in said social mobilizations”, concludes the complaint.

6. The victims

Finally, the list of victims is presented with Inti Sotelo and Bryan Pintado as victims of homicide; and 78 people aggrieved by the crime of injuries: 4 in the protests of November 10, 13 in the protests of November 12, 2 in those of November 13 and 59 in those of November 13.

Manuel Merino: the arguments of the constitutional complaint that was filed in Congress

List of aggrieved parties consigned in the constitutional complaint against Manuel Merino.

Manuel Merino: the arguments of the constitutional complaint that was filed in the Congress

List of aggrieved parties consigned in the constitutional complaint against Manuel Merino.

Manuel Merino: the arguments of the constitutional complaint filed in Congress

List of aggrieved parties recorded in the constitutional complaint against Manuel Merino.

Here you can read the constitutional complaint