Aprista stalwarts split over expelling arrested ex-deputy justice minister

Stalwarts of President Alan Garcia’s ruling Aprista party are split over whether to expel former deputy justice minister Gerardo Castro from the party due to his arrest Wednesday for attempting to bribe a civil servant, daily Peru.21 reported.

Congressman Mauricio Mulder, who was also APRA’s secretary general until last March, has called for Castro to be thrown out of the party.

Meanwhile, lawmaker Jorge del Castillo, Garcia’s prime minister in 2006-2008 and who is also being investigated on corruption allegations, called for restraint until he is the case is properly investigated.

Castro was arrested when he offered to pay $10,000 to Alejandro Rios, an advisor of Peru’s deputy fishing minister, in an attempt to extend fishing licenses for three vessels.

The advisor informed his superiors and Production Minister Jorge Villasante informed authorities of the incident. In total, five people were arrested in the case.

Castro was appointed deputy justice minister in July 2009 and held the position until March 2010, under the term of ex-Justice minister Aurelio Pastor.

Pastor, who left office due to a scandal involving the pardon of former TV station owner Jose Enrique Crousillat, denied close ties with Castro.

“He has never been a close confidante, or my right hand [man]. I met him in the ministry and being in the ministry I made the decision to promote him to deputy minister,” daily El Comercio reported Pastor as saying. “I am deeply disappointed and disillusioned because I have known him for a long time.”

Pastor added that he believes that Castro should be removed from the party.

Numerous high ranking officials from Garcia’s party have been implicated in corruption during his term.

In addition to Del Castillo, who is being investigated over an oil concession kickback scandal revealed in 2008 on the front pages of Peru’s tabloids and that tainted several party members, APRA’s institutional secretary general, Omar Quesada, was implicated in a shady land deal in the government branch that he used to run, the Agency of Formalization of Informal Property (Cofopri).

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