9 Dec 2022

Mexico considers granting asylum to Peru's ex-president Pedro Castillo

4:01 pm on 9 December 2022
Peru's President Pedro Castillo speaks during a press conference with his Chilean counterpart Gabriel Boric (out of frame) at La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago, on November 29, 2022, during his visit to Chile. (Photo by JAVIER TORRES / AFP)

Pedro Castillo Photo: AFP

Mexico has started consultations with Peruvian authorities regarding former President Pedro Castillo's request to seek asylum in the country, Mexico's foreign minister said on Twitter on Thursday.

Mexico's ambassador to Peru met with Castillo where he is being detained, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said. Castillo was arrested after attempting to dissolve Congress on Wednesday in a last-ditch failed bid to avoid an impeachment vote.

Ebrard shared a copy of Castillo's asylum request written by his lawyer, in which the lawyer alleged Castillo was "at grave risk" in Peru and that he had suffered "unfounded persecution".

The lawyer also wrote that he had been unable to see Castillo in the letter, which Ebrard said was received by the Mexican embassy at 2am local time.

Peruvian authorities "have acted with political motivation in respect to [Castillo]", lawyer Victor Gilbert Perez wrote, "to such an extent that they intend to prosecute him for mere announcements of will or intention that do not constitute any criminal offence."

Castillo, a former teacher and union activist, was arrested Wednesday on criminal charges of "rebellion and conspiracy", according to prosecutors. He simultaneously faces separate corruption allegations, which he denies.

A preliminary hearing on Thursday sought to evaluate the legality of Castillo's arrest, as well as touch on an inquiry by the Attorney General's Office into charges he orchestrated a rebellion.

Earlier Thursday, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Castillo had called him Wednesday to say he was en route to the Mexican embassy in Peru to request asylum.

Castillo was arrested and never arrived at the embassy, however, Lopez Obrador said.

On Wednesday, Ebrard said Mexico had a history of granting asylum to those facing political persecution.

In 2019, Mexico briefly housed former Bolivian President Evo Morales who fled the country amid unrest following a disputed election. Lopez Obrador has also offered asylum to Wikileaks' founder Julian Assange.

- Reuters

* This story was edited inappropriately and has been corrected. RNZ is concerned and takes this matter extremely seriously. We are investigating and have taken appropriate action.

A previous version added the phrase “which some are calling a constitutional coup” after the third sentence.

It had also introduced the following sentence, which is now removed: He attempted to dissolve the right-wing dominated Congress and initiate snap congressional elections and a process to change the constitution.

Finally, the second-to-last sentence previously said: In 2019, Mexico briefly took in another ousted leftist leader, former Bolivian President Evo Morales, who fled the country to avoid violence after election results were questioned by right-wing opposition.

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