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President of Peru’s home raided in luxury watch investigation

By AFP - Mar 31,2024 - Last updated at Mar 31,2024

Police leave President Dina Boluarte’s house during a raid ordered by the Attorney General’s Office as part of a preliminary investigation in Lima on Saturday (AFP photo)

LIMA — Peruvian authorities raided President Dina Boluarte’s home and the government palace early Saturday as part of an ongoing corruption investigation related to undisclosed luxury watches.

The search was carried out “according to the court order”, Colonel Harvey Colchado of the police told reporters. He would not say whether anything suspect had been found.

According to a police document obtained by AFP, about 40 agents and prosecutors were involved in the house raid, which was searching for Rolex watches that Boluarte had not publicly declared.

The raid “is for the purpose of search and seizure”, police said.

The embattled president was at the palace at the time, officials said. In a brief message on X, the presidency said the search was carried out “normally and without any incident”.

Prime Minister Gustavo Adrianzen slammed the raid as an “intolerable outrage” and “disproportionate and unconstitutional”.

He added, however, that Boluarte would “cooperate with the prosecution” and provide a statement when summoned.

Authorities launched an investigation into Boluarte this month after a news outlet drew attention to pictures of her sporting luxury watches at public events.

Rolex watches can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Saturday’s raid, a joint operation between the police and the prosecutor’s office, was broadcast on local television channel Latina.

Government agents could be seen surrounding the house in the Surquillo District of the capital Lima while officers blocked oncoming traffic.

The surprise, early-morning raid was requested by the public prosecutor and authorised by the Supreme Court of Preparatory Investigation.

It came after prosecutors refused Boluarte’s request for more time to respond to a subpoena demanding she furnish proof of purchase for her watches.

 

‘Clean hands’ 

 

Already facing declining approval ratings — currently around 10 percent — she was plunged into a fresh political crisis by the probe into whether she has illegally enriched herself while in office.

If she is indicted in the case, a trial could not take place until after her term ends in July 2026 or she is impeached, according to the constitution.

Congress potentially could seek her dismissal on grounds of “moral incapacity,” but that would require the unlikely cooperation of the right-leaning groups that control the parliament — and are Boluarte’s main support — with their left-wing rivals.

The scandal erupted after local news outlet La Encerrona reported in mid-March that Boluarte had worn various Rolex timepieces at official events.

The outlet drew attention to the watches with pictures dating from December 2022, when Boluarte took office.

The government comptroller later announced it would review Boluarte’s asset declarations from the past two years to search for any irregularities.

Boluarte, 61, has staunchly defended herself.

“I entered the Government Palace with clean hands, and I will leave it with clean hands,” she said last week.

Responding to questions about how she could afford such expensive timepieces on a public salary, she said they were a product of working hard since she was 18 years old.

The lawyer and former vice president became Peru’s first woman president after leftist leader Pedro Castillo tried to dissolve Congress and rule by decree, leading to his quick ouster and arrest.

Violent protests demanding Boluarte step down and fresh elections be held followed, with almost 50 people killed in the ensuing crackdown. Prosecutors are investigating her on charges that security forces used excessive and lethal force.

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