Lima, Peru — The National Board of Justice (JNJ), the highest authority for the appointment of judges and prosecutors in Peru, has initiated disciplinary proceedings against Attorney General Patricia Benavides and three of her advisors for alleged corruption.
Since November 26, a series of events has unfolded that apparently implicate the head of the Public Ministry and her inner circle for allegedly illicitly influencing decisions made by Congress.
On November 28, the JNJ announced they were opening disciplinary proceedings against Benavides and advisors Abel Hurtado, Miguel Ángel Girao and Jaime Villanueva.
“Immediate disciplinary proceedings are those followed against a judge or prosecutor in cases where there is sufficient evidence of notoriously irregular conduct or the commission of a very serious disciplinary offense detected at the moment it is being executed,” the statement from the JNJ read.
According to the disciplinary processes regulation of the JNJ, in both cases, the Attorney General could face dismissal.
On November 30, the JNJ issued a report recommending Benavides be suspended for six months. The hearing to address this request will take place on Wednesday, December 6.
The hypothesis of the Special Team of Prosecutors against the Corruption of Power (Eficcop) suggests that Benavides may have led a criminal network that used the power “of criminal prosecution for personal benefit.”
According to leaked chats in the press, the Attorney General, along with some congressmen, may have been behind the dismissal of the former Attorney General Zoraida Ávalos in June, the election of the Ombudsman Josué Gutiérrez in May, and the upcoming dismissal of the members of the JNJ.
On November 27, Jaime Villanueva, an advisor to Benavides, was detained for 10 days while being investigated for allegedly being part of the criminal network.
Benavides defended herself against the accusations, stating that the Public Ministry has been the “target of a premeditated attack” aimed at intimidating her, and she characterized the accusation against her as a “clumsy act.”
“With this clumsy act that seeks to destabilize the independence and autonomy of the Public Ministry, using some prosecutors for such a deplorable purpose, I will not step back. I have a firm commitment to the work I do,” she added.