LIMA — Peru’s ousted President Pedro Castillo told Peruvians Tuesday that he is being “unjustly and arbitrarily detained” and thanked his supporters for their “effort and fight” since he was taken into custody last week.
Castillo spoke during a hearing to determine whether he will remain jailed for three years while authorities build a rebellion case against him. Castillo was detained Wednesday after he was ousted by lawmakers when he sought to dissolve Congress ahead of an impeachment vote.
“I will never renounce or abandon this popular cause that has brought me here,” Castillo said. Then, in apparent reference to the violent protests that his ouster sparked, he urged the national police and armed forces to “lay down their arms and stop killing this people thirsty for justice.”
The judge interrupted him, telling Castillo to limit his remarks to legal arguments. He said he would rule on Castillo’s detention later Tuesday.
The protests have been particularly violent outside Peru’s capital, Lima. The Ombudsman’s Office of Peru reported Monday that seven people had died since the demonstrations began Wednesday, including five on Monday. All seven happened in rural, impoverished communities, strongholds for Castillo, a political neophyte and former schoolteacher of peasant roots from a poor Andean mountain district.
Attorney Ronaldo Atencio, speaking for Castillo’s legal team, argued that Castillo didn’t raise weapons or organize people capable of overturning the existing government, as Peruvian law requires for someone to be charged with rebellion. He also said Castillo doesn’t present a flight risk, and never sought asylum from Mexico, as confirmed by the Mexican ambassador.
Dina Boluarte, 60, was swiftly sworn in Wednesday to replace Castillo after Congress dismissed him for “permanent moral incapacity.” She was Castillo’s running mate during last year’s elections.
On Monday, she acceded in part to protesters’ demands, announcing in a nationally televised address that she would send Congress a proposal to move up elections to April 2024. She had previously asserted that she aimed to remain president for the remaining 3 1/2 years of her predecessor’s term.