The case cannot end with the suspension and subsequent dismissal of the current National Public Prosecutor, but with the restructuring of the state in its executive and legislative branches.
Operation Valkiria-v in the peruvian public prosecutor´s office and the need for state restructuring
By Antonio Peña Jumpa*
December 4, 2023.- The recent events in the Public Prosecutor's Office, and in particular by its National Public Prosecutor or Attorney General, Ms. Liz Patricia Benavides Vargas, confirm the difficult path of building institutions and democracy in Peru. Following a police and prosecutorial investigation, under the direction of Senior Prosecutor Marita Sonia Barreto Rivera, acts of corruption involving the Public Prosecutor's Office and members of the Congress of the Republic, with repercussions for members of the country's executive branch, have come to light. How can these forms of corruption be institutionally controlled?
Let us first make a brief reconstruction of the events that took place, their systematisation and interpretation, and then formulate some ideas on the subject.
An unexpected police and prosecutorial investigation, led by the Special Team of Prosecutors against Corruption of Power (EFICCOP) under the direction of Prosecutor Marita Barreto and the police command of Colonel Harvey Colchado, managed to obtain a judicial resolution ordering the search and seizure for the purpose of detention of persons identified as advisors to the National Prosecutor Patricia Benavides, and search, seizure and house search for the purpose of seizure of goods, documents and others related to the same persons (Resolution No. 1, of the 7th Preparatory Investigation Court at the National level, dated 25-11-2023).
In compliance with this judicial decision, on Monday 27 November 2023, an operation known as VALKIRIA-V was carried out, which led to the arrest of Mr. Jaime Javier Villanueva Barreto, senior adviser to the National Public Prosecutor Patricia Benavides, and the seizure of a set of documents or materials that lead to the confirmation of the alleged existence of a criminal organisation involving the aforementioned National Public Prosecutor as leader, and Mr. Jaime Villanueva, as well as Mr. Abel Hurtado Espinoza and Miguel Angel Girao Isidro as members of the alleged criminal organisation and charged as co-perpetrators of crimes.
The alleged criminal organisation is accused of committing at least two crimes: crime against public tranquillity in the modality of being part of a criminal organisation, and crime against the Public Administration in the modality of influence peddling. These crimes are proven in the acts or social actions of the aforementioned persons who, in breach of their administrative functions, were in contact with groups of congressmen under investigation, before the Public Prosecutor's Office itself, to carry out an illicit exchange: impunity in the fiscal investigation in exchange for their votes in order to obtain three important events through the Congress of the Republic:
- “The appointment of the Ombudsman Josué Gutierrez Condor, for illicit purposes.
- “Disqualification of Zoraida Ávalos Rivera as National Public Prosecutor, for illicit purposes.
- “Removal of the National Justice Board, for illicit purposes.”
(see Judicial Resolution cited above).
From the brief context of the facts and the case presented, the following can be seen:
- First, the existence of the alleged criminal organisation from the Public Prosecutor's Office for the commission of unlawful acts is proven.
- Second, the commission of the illegal acts is proven on the basis of the exchange of information and the offer to exchange fiscal impunity for votes in the Congress of the Republic in order to achieve illegal results.
Behind this evidence, there are motives or purposes underlying the illicit acts of the members of the criminal organisation: to prevent the "communists" and the "champagne socialist" from undermining the power of the Public Prosecutor's Office and controlling public institutions related to the justice system.
However, even if these ends are "good" for the country, they are not justified by the illicit means used. THE END DOES NOT JUSTIFY THE MEANS, which leads to confirm the commission of the aforementioned CRIMES.
it is not only about illicit acts at the top of the Public Prosecutor's Office, but also among the members of the Congress of the Republic and the Executive Branch itself.
But, in addition, the events that took place lead us to evaluate the weakness of the State structure: it is not only about illicit acts at the top of the Public Prosecutor's Office, but also among the members of the Congress of the Republic and the Executive Branch itself. On the one hand, interest groups in the Congress of the Republic achieved the majority of votes with the support of the congressmen "manipulated" by the Public Prosecutor's Office, and on the other hand, the President of the Republic, Mrs. Dina Boluarte, and her main ministers consented to this because they could also be "manipulated" by the same Public Prosecutor's Office based on the investigation initiated against them for the deaths that occurred during the social protests at the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023.
In the end, it is a system of corruption of a large part of the Peruvian state under the manipulation of the National Public Prosecutor, Ms. Patricia Benavides.
What to do?
Constitutionally, the Congress of the Republic is the power called upon to immediately remedy the situation. If there are honest members of Congress, not involved in the acts of corruption, they are the ones who should promote and decide the immediate suspension of Ms. Patricia Benavides as Attorney General of the Nation.
If the Congress of the Republic does not have the current capacity to make a decision, it is up to the National Board of Justice and the Judiciary to take that decision forward.
However, the case cannot end with the suspension and subsequent dismissal of the current National Public Prosecutor, but with the restructuring of the state in its executive and legislative branches. There is an urgent need for a change of government and congressmen. This confirms the need for constitutional intervention by the people (Article 45 of the Constitution) or the judiciary on behalf of the people (Article 138 of the Constitution).
(Written in Lima, 2 and 3 December 2023).
* Antonio Peña Jumpa is Professor at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú and lecturer at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos. Lawyer, Master in Social Sciences and PhD in Laws.