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Peru's former president Pedro Castillo will remain in detention for 18 months

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REUTERS/Sebastian Castaneda

Pedro Castillo, Peru’s former president, will remain in police custody for 18 months, a Peruvian judge ruled on Thursday. Castillo is accused of “rebellion and conspiracy” over his attempt to dissolve Congress as it voted to impeach him last week.

Castillo has been in police custody since Dec. 7, when he was detained while on his way to the Mexican embassy in Lima. His vice president Dina Boluarte was sworn in as president soon after. His removal from government and subsequent arrest has caused violent protests in Peru.

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Castillo’s arrest set off a wave of protests across Peru resulting in at least eight deaths and dozens of injuries. Supporters of Castillo briefly took control of an airport in Peru’s south — where Castillo is from — and have closed hundreds of roads across the country.

To contain the demonstrations, Boluarte imposed a 30-day state of emergency yesterday. The army has been called in to help impose it. Peru’s minister of defense said “there’s a possibility a curfew will be implemented,” El Comercio reports.

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Castillo has called Boluarte, his former vice president, a “usurper” and said he is being “humiliated, cut-off, mistreated and kidnapped.”

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Castillo’s 17 months in power were mired by scandal. During his presidency, he went through almost 80 cabinet ministers (including five secretaries of state), and he was accused by the prosecutor’s office of leading a criminal organization from the Presidential Palace.

Facing a third impeachment vote in Congress last week, Castillo announced that he would do without it and rule by decree, effectively attempting to impose a self-coup.

After his ousting, Boluarte became Peru’s fifth president since 2020, and its first female leader.

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In a letter published on Tuesday, the presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia and Argentina said that Castillo “had been a victim of anti-democratic harassment” since he was elected and called on Peru’s government to “heed the voice of the people.”