Peruvian judiciary in state of emergency, Supreme Court president resigns

Peru has declared a three-month emergency in its judiciary after a leaked phone conversation revealed alleged corruption at the highest levels of the country’s legal system (Andina).

The order was signed by President of the Supreme Court Duberlí Rodriguez (AFP, in French). However, Rodriguez subsequently resigned his own position on Thursday (France 24).

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“Given the institutional crisis that the judicial branch is going through, I present my irrevocable resignation from the post,” said Rodriguez in a letter (France 24).

Minister of Justice Salvador Heresi resigned on July 13 at the request of President Martin Vizcarra, after the release of a telephone conversation with a judge accused of allegedly using his position in return for favors.

Vizcarra asked Heresi to step down hours after investigative journalism website IDL-Reporteros released the audio of the conversation. Heresi is heard asking judge César Hinostroza to advise him on a legislative proposal (Reuters).

“I needed your advice because there is a whole issue that Congress wanted, on a multiparty level, to work at the legislative level in the area of criminal law and there was a sentence that you worked on,” Heresi told the magistrate.

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“For the health of the reform of the justice system, I’ve asked minister Heresi to resign his position,” said Vizcarra on Twitter. “The period Peru is living through requires firm action.”

The audio recordings scandal has caused the dismissal of five judges, the suspension of three judicial officials and Heresi’s forced resignation. It started with a recording where Judge Hinostroza — president of a regional superior courtroom — speaks by phone about a child rape case with an unnamed person, and sounds willing to accommodate lowering or eliminating the sentence of the perpetrator.

“How old is she? Ten years? Eleven years, but is she ‘deflowered’?” the judge asks. “What do they want? To reduce his sentence or to declare him innocent?” (Original audio in Spanish with subtitles)

Two Peruvian presidents, Alberto Fujimori in 2000 and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in March, were brought down after the release of undercover audio or video recordings (France 24 / AFP).

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