A convicted drug trafficker has accused Peru's previous government of selling reductions in prison sentences, as the controversy over the Alan Garcia administration's presidential pardons and sentence commutations deepens.
Oscar Benitez Linares, a drug trafficker-turned-DEA informant currently serving a 25-year prison sentence, made the claim before the "mega-commission" convened to investigate allegations of corruption and irregularities in the Garcia government, reported El Comercio.
According to Benitez, he requested that his sentence be reduced from 25 to 15 years after seeing that the Garcia administration was handing out pardons and commuting sentences. He claims that government officials said this would cost him $150,000.
The secretary general of Garcia's party, the APRA, dismissed the claims, saying "He has not given any precise details, he is not naming any names, and he is making absurd insinuations that make no sense."
InSight Crime Analysis
The accusations made by Benitez follow on from last week's revelations that the Garcia administration issued 5,500 presidential pardons, 400 of them to people convicted of drug trafficking offenses.
Members of the administration, including Garcia himself, have denied wrongdoing, claiming the pardons were for low-level "drug mules" and were designed to ease prison overcrowding. They also accused the commission of following a political agenda designed to discredit Garcia's party.
The new accusations cast doubt on these claims and raise serious questions about official corruption in the previous government. Although there is still no concrete proof that this took place or that it was a widespread practice, the accusations should be thoroughly investigated.