Police on Wednesday raided the private home of Peruvian President Pedro Castillo, local media reported, in search of his corruption-accused sister-in-law, whose lawyer said she later turned herself in to authorities.
Castillo himself is the subject of five criminal investigations, including for graft, and has survived two impeachment attempts since taking office in July last year.
Images broadcast on several television channels showed agents entering Castillo’s home in the rural, northern Cajamarca region on Wednesday.
This came just hours after an unprecedented raid Tuesday at the presidential palace in Lima to execute a warrant for the detention of Castillo’s sister-in-law Yenifer Paredes.
But while agents left Castillo’s house empty-handed, Paredes’s lawyer Jose Dionisio later told RPP radio station that his client had taken investigators “by surprise” by turning up at the prosecutor’s office and handing herself in.
“We are inside the prosecutor’s office,” Dionisio said.
The prosecutor’s office did not confirm a raid had taken place, but Castillo had said at a public event in Lima on Wednesday that “they have just entered my home.”
Castillo, a 52-year-old rural schoolteacher and trade unionist, unexpectedly took power from Peru’s traditional political elite in elections last year.
He has come under non-stop fire from his right-wing political rivals and is also in the crosshairs of the attorney general’s office investigating claims including public tender corruption and that Castillo plagiarized his university thesis.
Opinion polls show that three-quarters of Peruvians disapprove of his management of the country, which has seen three prime ministers and seven interior ministers come and go in just over a year.
Others in president’s circle investigated
Paredes, 26, lives with Castillo and his wife, who she reportedly views as “parents.”
She is the fourth person in the presidential entourage to be investigated for alleged corruption, and also faces money laundering charges.
The others include a nephew who served as an adviser, a former transport minister – both fugitives from justice – and Castillo’s former presidential secretary.
The Court of Justice said in a statement that Tuesday’s raid on the presidential palace was to execute a judicial search warrant for Paredes.
Other raids took place simultaneously elsewhere in the capital, with Jose Nenil Medina – a mayor from Castillo’s native Chota province – and businessmen brothers Hugo and Angie Espino arrested for alleged involvement in the same corruption ring.
In a message broadcast on television late Tuesday, Castillo called the operation “an illegal raid” that was part of a conspiracy to remove him from office.
His lawyer Benji Espinoza later announced his resignation, without divulging why, but insisted his former client was the victim of “a lynching, because there has never been a president investigated by the judiciary.”
Also on Tuesday, a parliamentary committee report recommended disqualifying and prosecuting Castillo over his reported consideration of a proposal to allow landlocked neighbor Bolivia access to the sea.