Peru’s National Board of Justice (JNJ) announced on the night of Wednesday, December 6, that it is temporarily suspending Patricia Benavides for six months from her position as Attorney General, the highest authority in the Public Ministry.
“The provisional suspension of Patricia Benavides as Supreme Prosecutor of the Public Ministry for six months is ordered,” stated the JNJ’s release, which is responsible for appointing, ratifying, and dismissing judges and prosecutors.
According to the institution, this measure is a result of the disciplinary procedure initiated against her on November 28 for allegedly leading a criminal network that engaged in influence trafficking with some congressmen and exchanged political favors.
The December 6 statement specifies that Benavides’ suspension is necessary for the disciplinary process to proceed normally, to prevent “obstruction,” and to “guarantee a final resolution.”
The statement concludes: “The JNJ acts in strict compliance with the constitution, its organic law, and its disciplinary procedures regulations, ensuring due process and safeguarding the right to defense of the investigation.”
On December 7, Benavides emphatically denied the accusations that she is allegedly linked to organized crime and stated that she has been the victim of an “express” suspension with political motivations and no evidence against her.
“This express resolution, as had already been reported, has political motivations that have converged to suspend me and thus ensure that the forces behind this evidently coordinated political plot take control of the Public Ministry again,” she said in a video.
According to Benavides, the decision of the JNJ was made “without a single piece of evidence” and without respecting due process.
The highest position in the Public Ministry would now be temporarily filled by the most senior supreme prosecutor, Pablo Sánchez. However, he is expected to decline this position on Monday and pass the role to the supreme prosecutor Juan Carlos Villena.
According to the disciplinary processes regulation of the JNJ, the suspended Attorney General could face permanent dismissal.