Peru’s ousted president asks court for his freedom

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Peru’s ousted president Pedro Castillo, jailed while awaiting trial on charges of “rebellion” and conspiracy, asked a court to free him.

“I ask for an end to hatred and for my freedom,” Castillo told the Supreme Court in an online hearing. “I never committed the crime of rebellion,” he added.

Castillo, 53, was impeached and arrested on December 7 after he tried to dissolve Congress to rule by decree. Since coming to power in July 2021, he faced vehement political opposition on all fronts and investigations started almost immediately into numerous graft claims.

After his failed self-coup, Castillo was ordered held in pre-trial detention for 18 months. The ouster of the former rural school teacher and union leader caused protests countrywide, with Peru’s rights ombudsman reporting 22 people killed in clashes and more than 600 injured. Castillo’s defense team is asking for his pre-trial detention at a prison on a police base in Lima to be terminated.

The court, headed by judge Cesar San Martin, must rule later Wednesday. “Judge, I have not committed any crime of conspiracy,” insisted Castillo, who was accompanied by his lawyer. “Who conspired is the Congress and other institutions plotting the collapse of my government through successive impeachment requests and other tricks,” the former president added.

Castillo claimed he was being held incommunicado and asked the judge to grant him access to a telephone to contact his wife and two children, who were granted asylum in Mexico.—INP