Peru president faces impeachment trial over corruption scandal

World Today

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s days could be numbered as president of Peru. He is entangled in the expanding corruption scandal linked to the Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht.

His presidency is hanging in the balance as the country’s congress prepares an impeachment vote.

That could happen this week and could spell the end of his tenure in office.

CGTN’s Dan Collyns reports from Lima.

In the space of a week, Peru’s president has been implicated in a widening corruption scandal that could end with him being pushed out of office.

A vote in Peru’s congress at the end of last week began impeachment proceedings against President Kuczynski.

He admits a company he owned did business with Odebrecht more than 10 years ago including a period in which he held public office.

He says he was not running the company at the time and denies any wrongdoing:

“It is absolutely clear. Here are the contracts which I have not signed, which are completely legal and that have been taxed. If this was a bribe how could it have been done in this way it can’t. I think that this is an exaggeration to try to shake up the president, the prosecutor and a number of other very important people in Peru’s political life, “Kuczynski said.

Odebrecht has admitted paying $29 million in bribes over some 15 years in order to secure lucrative state contracts in Peru.

That’s just part of some $800 millions the firm has admitted handing out across the region.

Nonetheless, in a TV interview on Sunday, Kuczynski admitted that he had profited as a shareholder from the transactions.

Last week, the opposition dominated congress demanded Kuczynski resign. He refused but observers worry he could be removed before he has a chance to defend himself, former Peruvian Prime Minister Pedro Cateriano told CGTN.

“Congress said resign or we’ll force you out. Now, as he didn’t resign, they’re carrying out that threat, violating his right to defense, due process and the presumption of innocence. What’s at stake is democracy, what’s at stake is the country’s image and prestige. What’s at stake is all the progress we’ve made.”, Pedro Cateriano, former Peruvian Prime Minister said.

The majority Popular Force party, which is leading the impeachment process, says it’s part of its fight against corruption.

However, the party’s leader Keiko Fujimori is also being investigated for receiving bribes from Odebrecht along with former President Alan Garcia.

The investigation has already landed one former Peruvian president in jail pending trial while another is fighting extradition in the United States.