The so-called “mega-commission” investigating the “pay-for-pardons” scandal in Peru says it will recommend sanctioning former President Alan Garcia, a decision that could impact his reelection bid and is illustrative of the potential reach of organized crime in that country.
The commission — which is made up of seven congressmen and was convened to look into irregularities during Garcia’s second administration (2006 – 2011) — said it found “constitutional” infractions and did not rule out recommending a criminal investigation into Garcia’s knowledge of and actions regarding the early release of hundreds of convicted felons.
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“We have documented a number of irregularities,” Commission President Sergio Tejada Galindo told the press. “All the persons mentioned in the report have been called [to testify] and we have heard their testimonies. The right to due process is therefore guaranteed.” (See video below)
In October, Garcia told the commission that commuting the sentences of the convicted felons, including dozens of high-level criminals, was nothing more than a “[bureaucratic] process” (“tramite”). The administration said it released the prisoners to unclog the overcrowded jails.
The commission said it will release its full report, with recommendations, in the coming days.
Source: Canal N
InSight Crime Analysis
The case, which came to light in April following a TV news report, has already ensnared two former justice ministers and may yet swallow Garcia’s rumored bid for a third presidential term in 2016.
However, the long-time professional politician is a master at operating in the grey. Both of his administrations (the first 1985 – 1990) were plagued by accusations of corruption. He famously owns a huge mansion in Lima, which the powerful orator says he paid for with speaking fees and other private activities.
Yet, like the famous “teflon” President Ronald Reagan, nothing has stuck on Garcia. What’s more, the commission, which is hardly neutral, does not have the authority to criminally prosecute Garcia and cannot, on its own, ban Garcia from political office.
Still, the case is revealing. At the very least, Garcia and his justice ministers appear to have pardoned some high level traffickers, several of whom have been subsequently captured since their early release. In perhaps the most damning testimony, a former trafficker turned Drug Enforcement Administration collaborator said he was quoted a fee of $150,000 by Garcia administration officials to lower his sentence.