A prominent public prosecutor investigating Peru’s first lady has threatened to resign over a gag order issued by the justice minister.
In interviews with various Peruvian television programs, corruption prosecutor Julia Principe said she believes there is sufficient evidence to investigate first lady Nadine Heredia and her brother Ilan Heredia for money laundering in connection with jailed political operative Martin Belaunde and the President Ollanta Humala’s failed presidential campaign in 2006.
Principe later told the press that she was asked to explain to justice minister Gustavo Adrianzen why she had made the statements to the press without authorization.
“I have made my declarations responsibly and only when it has been necessary. Freedom of speech from public officials is a right in society,” Principe said. “I have been doing my job this way as I have always done it because I consider myself to be autonomous in my job. I don’t have to ask permission nor give explanations. This is the first time I’ve been asked for explanations, and I’ve been working as a prosecutor for almost 13 years.”
Principe added that she never requested permission nor encountered punishment when she spoke to the press about cases involving Peru’s professional soccer league, political power broker Martin Belaunde and former Ancash governor Cesar Alvarez.
“Currently there is nothing guaranteeing my working autonomy, which has generated a scenario that is not compatible with my convictions. I am evaluating [the possibility of resigning],” Principe told Radio San Borja.
A justice ministry memo leaked to Peru21 warns other prosecutors that any statements made to the press must be authorized by the justice ministry.
Adrianzen says that he always requested permission before making statements to the press when he worked as a prosecutor for the defense ministry. He denied there is a gag order against his ministry staff from speaking to the press.
“[A prosecutor] can’t take the liberty to make political statements that don’t have anything to do with the substance of the job that she holds or the specific function she does,” Adrianzen said. “If congress wants to summon me for questioning, I guarantee you I will be there to respond to all the congressmen’s concerns in the most respectful way.”
Adrianzen and other members of the ruling Peruvian Nationalist Party allege that members of the fujimorista bloc led by Keiko Fujimori is trying to destabilize the justice ministry. In May members from the fujimorista coalition attempted to impeach Adrianzen after Martin Belaunde escaped house arrest in Bolivia.
First lady Nadine Heredia appears again today before the congressional commission investigating links between alleged racketeer Martin Belaunde, who worked as a consultant on President Humala’s 2006 presidential campaign. Heredia is being investigated for money laundering and illicit enrichment.
¿Las horas contadas de Príncipe? (La Mula)
Nadine Heredia asiste hoy a la Comisión Belaunde Lossio (El Comercio)