More cases of corruption wracking Peru’s judicial system have led newly appointed president, Martin Vizcarra, to ask his minister of the judiciary to step down from his post.
Over the past week, several controversial recordings have revealed the presence of embezzlement, kickbacks, and corruption by high court officials.
In one of the more outrageous recordings, Judge Cesar Hinostroza, president of a regional superior courtroom, speaks by telephone about a child rape case with an unnamed person. During the conversation, the president seems willing to accommodate lowering or eliminating the sentence of the perpetrator.
"How old is she? Ten years? Eleven years, but is she ‘deflowered’?" the judge asks.
Later in the phone call, Hinostroza says, "Yes, I'm going to look at the file. What is it they want, to get the sentence lowered sentence or to be declared innocent?"
It’s unclear to which case he was referring, but the rape incident evidently occurred last April.
Other recordings involving the same rape case implicate Peruvian Minister of Justice, Salvador Heresi, who was asked to resign by President Vizcarra on Friday, “for the health of the judicial reform” in Peru.
In another recording, the same Hinostroza is heard talking about a meeting with President Vizcarra and seems to refer to the Peruvian Football Federation president, Edwin Oviedo, and the World Cup.
"So far he has not given me the news to get my passport, my ticket, nothing. ... In order to get the FIFA badge I need to give the ticket number of at least one ticket," Hinostroza tells the person on the phone.
The judge allegedly helped get someone a position in order to get free tickets to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Hinostroza came out July 9 claiming his innocence regarding both recordings.
He was dismissed on July 13 and has been prevented from leaving the country, pending an investigation into the audio.
President Vizcarra came to office only three months ago promising to stamp out corruption in the judiciary and to create a "Justice System Reform Commission" to stamp out rampant corruption within the judicial system. He follows his former running mate and predecessor Pedro Pablo Kuczynski who was impeached for “moral incapacity” and buying congressional votes to avoid an earlier impeachment.
The President of a different superior court, Walter Rios, was also allegedly caught on tape asking for money in exchange for helping a judge to take office.
"So, as a guarantee, I believe that he has to give some amount. ... As a guarantee, if nothing happens we give it back. Rios also resigned on Friday.
President Vizcarra said the recordings revealed "not only the enormous degree of immorality with which those called upon to impart justice act, but also the existence of mechanisms and vices that pervert the administration of justice and that must be eradicated."
Other controversial recordings have been released this week that involve the possible wrongdoing by three members of the National Judicial Council.
Hundreds of Peruvians marched in Lima last week demanding judicial reform and justice. "Get out criminal gang; get out corrupt judges; get out rats!" read their placards.