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Peru president ordered to present Rolex watches in graft scandal

By AFP

April 1, 2024 10:53 AM


President Dina Boluarte

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Peru's prosecutor's office on Sunday ordered President Dina Boluarte to present any Rolex watches in her possession, after a raid on her home and office as part of a corruption probe.

Boluarte, 61, is being investigated for alleged illegal enrichment and failing to declare several luxury watches which she has been spotted wearing since coming to power in 2022, following her predecessor's arrest.

"The president of the republic has been formally summoned to exhibit the Rolex watches," when she gives her sworn statement on April 5, the prosecutor's office said.

The statement from the prosecutor's office said that officers had not found the luxury watches during a dawn raid on Saturday, in which agents were shown breaking down the door of Boluarte's home in dramatic television footage.

However, it said "other elements of interest for the investigation were obtained." Local media indicated that documents were found showing when one of the watches was obtained.

Boluarte's lawyer Mateo Castaneda told journalists on Saturday that police had found some watches during their operation.

"They did not take them away. They were noted and photographed. There were around 10, and among them were some nice ones but I cannot say if they were Rolex," Castaneda told radio station RPP.

In response to the summons, Boluarte on Sunday requested to have her "investigative statement taken immediately, in order to clarify the facts under investigation as soon as possible" and not on April 5 as planned.

In the statement released through her attorney, she said the request was due to "the political turbulence that has been occurring."

She did not confirm whether she would comply with the request to present the Rolex watches.

- 'Arbitrary and abusive' -

The raid came after prosecutors refused Boluarte's request for more time to respond to a subpoena demanding she furnish proof of purchase for her watches.

Prosecutors also want to know if she has reported the Rolex watches on her income statements.

Boluarte came to power in December 2022 after then president Pedro Castillo tried to dissolve Congress and rule by decree, leading to his arrest and violent protests demanding she step down, and that fresh elections be held.

She is also facing a constitutional complaint over a crackdown on those protests which led to the deaths of more than 50 people.

Boluarte, whose approval ratings hover around 10 percent, said Saturday the raids were "an attack on democracy and the state of government, generating political, social and economic instability."

In an address to the nation, she slammed the raids as "arbitrary, disproportionate and abusive."

She has previously said that the watches were the product of working hard since she was 18 years old.

If she is indicted in the case, a trial could not take place until after her term ends in July 2026 or she is impeached, according to the constitution.

Congress potentially could seek her dismissal on grounds of "moral incapacity," but that would require the unlikely cooperation of the right-leaning groups that control the parliament -- and are Boluarte's main support -- with their left-wing rivals.


AFP


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