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  • Peru's President Martin Vizcarra leaves the Congress to present a bill declaring the public prosecutor's office in a state of emergency, in Lima, Peru Jan. 2, 2019.

    Peru's President Martin Vizcarra leaves the Congress to present a bill declaring the public prosecutor's office in a state of emergency, in Lima, Peru Jan. 2, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 13 January 2019

Peru's former attorney general was caught on camera directing the theft of documents, and is now prohibited from leaving the country.

Peru’s former Attorney General Pedro Chavarry has been prohibited from leaving the country by the nation’s Supreme Court of Investigation for allegedly directing the removal of state documents which could potentially provide evidence on the Odebrecht case.

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Security cameras from the ninth floor of Chavarry’s Lima offices show that he met Jan. 5 with a former advisor and three security officers. The advisor and security personnel were later filmed removing files from the sealed office of Juan Manuel Duarte, an attorney working under Chavarry's charge.

The office had been sealed the night prior by special investigator Jose Domingo Perez who had executed a warranted raid on Duarte’s office to look for evidence that connects Chavarry, who has since stepped down as attorney general, to the money laundering case of Fuerzo Popular legislator, Keiko Fujimori, accused of receiving at least US$1.2 million in campaign funding from Odebrecht for her 2011 presidential run.

Chavarry called the raid “illegal” and said that Perez was "abusing his authority.” Perez told reporters immediately after the raid that he had found documents related to Fujimori in Duarte’s office.

The investigation department of the national police said in a Jan. 12 report that Rosa Maria Venegas, a former adviser to Chavarry and three police officers assigned to the former prosecutor's security were identified as responsible for breaching the sealed office and removing documents.

Chavarry initially called it “coincidence” that he had met Venegas in his offices on a Saturday morning. However, the images reveal that not only were the two together in the Public Ministry building but also left the Lima building at the same time.

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The former attorney general was also accompanied by his then Secretary General Aldo Leon Patiño when the two entered that building on Jan. 5 at 10:00 a.m. Just after the raid on the night of Jan. 4 Perez accused Leon of obstructing the raid.

Others shown on camera were Max Aranda Hernandez, former head of the Office of Advisors in the Attorney General's office and the current security manager of the Public Ministry, Juan Asmat Bucalo. Asmat told local press that he was there when the documents were stolen because he was "fulfilling his duties".

Chavarry’s lawyer, Juan Peña said of his client being prohibited from leaving Peru for nine months: "He will definitely accept it, but we are evaluating whether an appeal is necessary,” according to local media.

The lawyer added Sunday Jan. 13 that he hasn’t been able to communicate with his client for two days. "I can not communicate with him. For two days I’ve been trying to call. ... He tries to call me and the call does not enter" said Peña to reporters. “There is strange communication,” added the lawyer.

The former attorney general finally stepped down from his post on Jan. 8 under mounting public and presidential pressure, all th while insisting that “illegal acts” were being taken against him and the attorney general’s office as a state institution.

Chavarry, had dismissed Perez and his anti-corruption colleague Rafael Vela from their posts on Dec. 31 as lead state investigators into the Odebrecht corruption case that, along with Keiko Fujimori, involves several former presidents. Under public and official pressure Chavarry reinstated the two prosecutors 48 hours later.

Just prior to their sudden dismissal the two special prosecutors formally accused Chavarry of “obstructing” their case against Fujimori.

Zoraida Avalos, Peru’s newly-installed attorney general, who had requested that Chavarry resign days before he did, declared a state of emergency over the national office she is temporarily presiding over to restore confidence in the institution mired in several corruption scandals. President Martin Vizcarry handed Congress a bill to approve the same measure last week.

Chavarry now presides over the Supreme Civil Prosecutor's Office.

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