Peru’s Public Ministry requests 36-month pretrial detention for ruling party leader

A prosecutor from Peru’s Public Ministry requested 36 months of pretrial detention for the leader of Peru’s ruling political party.

Vladimir Cerrón of Peru Libre is accused of being the alleged leader of a criminal ring that would have financed his party with illicit money.

The investigation also includes two Peruvian congressmen from the ruling party, Cerron’s brother Waldemar and former Prime Minister Guido Bellido. 

Eight other people linked to the party are also included in the request for pretrial detention.

On November 14, Judge John Pillaca of the Sixth National Preparatory Investigation Court began to evaluate the prison request, but the hearing was suspended until November 16 and will last until Friday of this week.

Valdemar Cerrón, congressman and Vladimir Cerrón’s brother. Image courtesy of ANDINA/Renato Pajuelo

During the first hearing, prosecutor Richard Rojas said that Cerrón has more than 5 million soles (USD $1.5 million) in his bank accounts that he cannot justify, and therefore he is accused of laundering money and conspiracy.

“Neither Peru Libre nor the leader of the criminal organization Vladimir Cerrón can justify their income, since the system they created has illicit money with which they acquired real estate and personal property,” said Rojas.

After hearing the news, Cerrón said on social media platform Twitter that he “serenely faces the arbitrary request for pretrial detention.” 

The politician also called on his party to maintain “the fighting spirit at all times, no matter how difficult the circumstances.”

According to the Public Ministry, all those investigated would be part of a criminal network known as the “Dinamicos del Centro”, which would have used Peru Libre as a front for alleged money laundering.

The organization was dedicated to obtaining illicit profits in exchange for favors with driver’s licenses in the regional government of Junin, which is located in the central zone of the Peruvian Andes.

Guido Bellido, congressman and former prime minister Image courtesy of ANDINA.

Investigators are looking into whether the organization sought to use the illicit money to finance President Pedro Castillo’s 2021 presidential campaign and raised funds for the reparation of Cerrón, who was convicted of corruption in 2019 when he was re-elected Junin’s governor.

The top politician was later disqualified from holding public office, sentenced to four years of suspended prison and ordered to pay a $220,000 fine.

In August, 11 bank accounts belonging to Cerrón and his mother, Bertha Rojas, were seized by Peruvian authorities. The pair are under investigation for money laundering.

Those bank accounts contain more than 3.2 million soles (USD $770,000), the investigations indicate.

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