The President's legal team is active in criminal investigations, political proceedings, and the media. Criminal lawyer Benji Espinoza, his most recent signing, affirms that his services are not paid by the State.
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Pedro Castillo and his two most mediatic lawyers: Benji Espinoza and Eduardo Pachas.
“I say it publicly: the future of Peru's litigation rests on your shoulders,” César Nazakaki told Benji Espinoza at the beginning of 2021. It was the beginning of a long conversation between lawyers< b> spread on social media and can still be found on the second's YouTube channel.
This praise today oscillates between paradox and premonition. It was done by a criminal known for having defended three former presidents to a colleague who, a year later, would be a lawyer for the current head of state, the first to be investigated during his term.
And it is even more paradoxical considering that today César Nakazaki is a lawyer for Karelim López, an effective collaborator whose testimony was vital in the prosecutor's decision to open a preliminary investigation of Pedro Castillo< /b>. “It's true, today we are on opposite shores”, tells El Comercio Benji Espinoza about Nakazaki, whom he describes as a friend.
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Also on the other side is Pablo Sánchez, the National Prosecutor who decided to preliminarily investigate his client for the alleged commission of crimes of collusion , criminal organization and influence peddling. “He was my teacher. He taught me in the master's degree”, he tells about him.
In May, when the future inclusion of Pedro CastilloIn an investigation it was foreseeable, Espinoza became the most recent signing of the team that exercises the legal defense of the president. He is a lawyer with experience in the defense of cases such as 'Narco-indults', 'Peter Ferrari', 'La Switchboard' or 'Los Intocables Ediles'.
He also represented former Prime Minister Ántero Flores Aráoz before the investigation into the deaths in the protests against the government of Manuel Merino, as recorded in the constitutional complaint for this case. “I have defended governors, congressmen, mayors, aldermen”, he comments, but adds that “defending an acting president is the biggest challenge so far.”
The criminalist avoided revealing who or how he approached Pedro Castillo, but said he had been “in the orbit” to assume his defense since last year.
Benji Espinoza is not Castillo's only attorney. At the end of 2021, when the cases linked to his environment began to multiply and surround him, the president presented Eduardo Pachas as his defender.
His defense was, from the beginning, before the courts and before public opinion. Especially after the presidential silence. The lawyer became a recurring figure in the media with successive interviews, often accidents. He was also present at the first admissions of the prosecution to the Government Palace and accompanied the president to meet with the then prosecutor of the Nation, Zoraida Ávalos.
Eduardo Pachas. 52 years. He is also a lawyer from the San Martín de Porres University, where he also has a master's degree in Criminal Sciences. (Photo: file/El Comercio)
Pachas promoted measures to remove the prosecutor from the Petro-Peru Case, Norah Córdova, for expressions against Pedro Castillo on social networks and was with the president when he was questioned at the Government Palace by the prosecution.
He also called for the dismissal of the then Attorney General of the State, Daniel Soria, who had denounced Pedro Castillo. His removal would be signed weeks later by the president after a Comptroller's report. In between, there was a meeting between Pachas and the then Minister of Justice, Aníbal Torres, but both deny having touched on the subject. With the arrival of Espinoza, his appearances in the media were reduced.
The second attorney came to light in mid-May. This is Jorge Díaz Campos, a native of Chota and a former judge in Piura who was dismissed in 2006 by the National Council of the Judiciary.
Jorge Diaz Campos. 63 years old. Former judge and lawyer from the Pedro Ruiz Gallo National University with a master's degree in Criminal Law from the same institution.
On May 13, he accompanied the first lady Lilia Paredes as her legal defense in her interrogation as a witness before the anti-money laundering prosecutor Luz Taquire. There, he announced that the president's wife was not going to testify. This motivated the prosecutor to denounce her and that she, to date, is being investigated for alleged refusal to collaborate with justice. Espinoza joined the defense of the president and his wife after that episode.
Thus, the three criminalists were in the interrogation of the Nation's Prosecutor's Office to Castillo on June 17 and presented the protection of rights with which they tried – so far without success – to annul the investigation of the president.
< p itemprop="description" class="story-contents__font-paragraph">The fourth lawyer is José Palomino Manchego, Doctor of Law, professor and former dean of the San Marcos Law School, where he coincided with Prime Minister Aníbal Torres.< /p>
Jose Palomino Manchego. 64 years old. Lawyer from the National University of San Marcos. There he did a master's degree, doctorate and was dean of the Faculty of Law.
Known as a constitutionalist, Palomino accompanied Castillo in his presentation to Congress for the vacancy motion of March this year and participated in his representation before the plenary session.
A few weeks ago, he appeared before the Subcommittee on Constitutional Accusations as the president's attorney to express his opposition to the constitutional complaint against him for alleged treason.
Faced with such a defense, a question remains in the air: who pays for their services? As an official, the president could request that the state finance his defense. This was done, for example, by his co-investigated fugitive and former minister Juan Silva, but he was unsuccessful.
Statements by Minister Dimitri Senmache
However, Espinoza assures that his services are paid by Castillo himself. The amount and the conditions, yes, he keeps them under professional confidentiality.
Consulted by El Comercio on the same, Pachas recused himself from giving an answer . Meanwhile, Minister Alejandro Salas replied that this is a matter reserved between the president and his legal defenders.
Penalists commented to this newspaper that it is difficult to establish a standard rate or amount of fees for cases like this. Like many other aspects of his case, it is a secret between the president and his legal team.