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Peru declares state of emergency, seeks 18-months jail for Castillo

Peru declares state of emergency, seeks 18-months jail for Castillo
December 15, 2022 Reuters

LIMA (Reuters) - Peru announced a nationwide state of emergency on Wednesday, granting police special powers and limiting freedoms including the right to assembly, after a week of fiery protests that have left at least eight dead.

The protests were sparked by the ousting of former President Pedro Castillo on Dec. 7 in an impeachment vote. Castillo, a leftist elected in 2021, was arrested after illegally trying to dissolve the Andean nation's Congress, the latest in a series of political crises the world's second-largest copper producer has faced in recent years.

Prosecutors on Wednesday said they were seeking 18 months of pretrial detention for Castillo, who has been charged with rebellion and conspiracy. Peru's Supreme Court met to consider the request but later suspended the session until Thursday.

Castillo's former vice president, Dina Boluarte, was sworn into office after his removal, and her presidency has divided other Latin American leaders.

The political upheaval has sparked angry and sometimes violent protests around the Andean country, especially in the rural and mining regions that propelled the former peasant farmer and teacher to office in July last year.

Eight people, mostly teenagers, have died in clashes with the police, authorities have said. At least six were victims of gunfire, according to rights groups. Protesters have blockaded highways, set fires to buildings and invaded airports.

"We have agreed to declare a state of emergency throughout the country, due to the acts of vandalism and violence," Boluarte's defense minister, Alberto Otarola, told reporters.

"This requires a forceful response from the government," he said, adding that it would mean the suspension of certain freedoms, including the right to assembly and freedom of transit, and give authorities the ability to enter homes without a warrant.