New legal battle brews in Peru as attorney general challenges president

Peru's President Pedro Castillo speaks during the Leaders' Second Plenary Session during the Ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 10, 2022. REUTERS/Lauren Justice/File Photo

LIMA, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Peru's attorney general on Tuesday filed a so-called constitutional complaint against President Pedro Castillo, opening a new legal battle that opposition forces hope could lead to his ouster.

Castillo already faces five criminal investigations into whether he has used the presidency to benefit himself and has survived two impeachment attempts in just over a year in office.

Castillo denies any wrongdoing and vowed late on Tuesday to finish his term in 2026.

"We have found very serious indications of a criminal organization that has taken roots in the government," said attorney general Patricia Benavides.

Castillo called the constitutional complaint - as well as raids and detentions that targeted allies earlier in the day - a "coup d'etat" orchestrated by the attorney general's office.

Some lawmakers have said they want to launch a third impeachment bid though they acknowledge they do not have the votes.

Some, however, think the constitutional complaint could lead to Castillo's suspension with fewer votes in the opposition-controlled Congress than a formal impeachment vote.

But Prime Minister Aníbal Torres said the constitutional complaint was unconstitutional in its own right, setting the stage for a legal battle over the limits of the mechanism.

Peru has a high turnover of presidents with five since 2016. One of them was ousted through impeachment, another resigned before an impeachment vote and a third one resigned after street protests.

Reporting by Marco Aquino and Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Alistair Bell, Richard Pullin and Leslie Adler

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