Brother and lawyer of Peru president held as corruption inquiry widens

Brother and lawyer of Peru president held as corruption inquiry widens

Police in Peru have detained the brother and the lawyer of the country’s embattled president, Dina Boluarte, as part of a widening corruption inquiry, weeks after a similar raid on the Peruvian leader’s home.

Boluarte’s brother Nicanor and her lawyer Mateo Castañeda were placed under preliminary detention on Friday, accused of influence trafficking and belonging to a criminal organisation. Six other people were also detained.

The swoop on Boluarte’s inner circle comes as she continues to be embroiled in the “Rolexgate” scandal after prosecutors began an investigation following reports that she was using jewellery worth at least £400,000 ($500,000) despite earning a monthly presidential salary of around £3,320 ($4,200).

Boluarte, 61, has denied owning three Rolex watches, saying they had been loaned to her by the governor of the Andean region of Ayacucho, Wilfredo Oscorima, whom she referred to as her wayki, meaning “brother” in Quechua. Prosecutors are investigating whether she allegedly received the watches in exchange for favours. She has denied wrongdoing.

Prosecutors are investigating Nicanor Boluarte, who holds no official government position, for allegedly using his de facto power to build a new political party and to solicit bribes from officials holding regional government posts, according to police documents seen by the Guardian. The investigation has been dubbed Los waykis en la sombra, meaning “the brothers in the shadow”.

Police officers escort man out of homeView image in fullscreen

Just hours before the raids, the interior minister, Walter Ortíz, had ordered the deactivation of the police division that was due to carry out the operation. The same unit – which supports a team of prosecutors against corruption in power – took part in the raid on President Boluarte’s home on Good Friday.

On Friday, the prosecutor’s office said it was evaluating whether the interior minister had exceeded his functions in ordering the deactivation of the unit. Interim public prosecutor Juan Carlos Villena called for its immediate reinstatement.

Last month, Boluarte’s government suspended Harvey Colchado, the head of the elite police investigations unit, Diviac, in apparent retaliation for the Good Friday raid on her home. Ortíz denied there had been any political interference in Colchado’s suspension.

Boluarte ranks as Latin America’s least popular leader, with a 9% approval rating, according to a poll compiled by the Americas Society in January.

She is accused of presiding over the killings of 49 people by security forces during widespread protests over the ousting of her predecessor, Pedro Castillo, in December 2022. She faces a separate investigation over her role in those deaths.