While the Comptroller General, Fuad Khoury, has ordered the temporary freezing of most banking operations by the Ancash regional government, Interior Minister Walter Alban announced that the government is to change the police leadership in the central region, where a number of politically-related killings have grabbed national attention.
Both Khoury and Alban met with the Congress’ regulatory commission to discuss the different measures being taken in the region.
“We are going to appoint a new commander for Ancash, we are going to rotate all of our personnel, we are going to send more police officers,” Alban said in comments to daily Peru.21.
Meanwhile, the Ancash region’s banking operations have been frozen for 30 days to enable the state comptrollers to continue their investigation into the irregular use of public funds without risk of any more funds being used inappropriately. So far, investigations are being followed up on 151 banking transactions. Khoury said the measure does not affect payroll and social benefit transactions. He said the corruption problems in the regional government are centered on the “execution of works, contracts and purchases.”
The decisions follow the murder last month of Ezequiel Nolasco, a former regional adviser who was planning to run for president of Ancash in this year’s election. Nolasco, who escaped an attempt on his life in 2010, had filed complaints on a number of occasions alleging misuse of funds by Alvarez and by the mayor of the Santa province.
Nolasco’s killing has led to several media reports in Lima alleging that the current president of Ancash, Cesar Alvarez, was behind the murder of his political opponent. Alvarez has repeatedly denied any links to the crime and is in Lima this week to answer questions in Congress.
A congressional committee was set up and specialized prosecutors sent to Ancash in order to investigate the murder and a series of others that appear to be politically-motivated. The murders are allegedly linked to corruption related issues in Ancash, which receives enormous amount of taxes due to mining activity in the region.
“The death of Nolasco has moved the country to the point that now all the institutions are committed to not only investigate the murder but everything that happens in that region,” said Alban.
Also this week, the Judicial Control Office, OCMA, is opening an investigation into three Superior Court justices in the Santa province, who in January this year absolved three men who were charged with the assassination in 2010 of Nolasco’s son-in-law. According to the prosecutor who prepared the case in 2010, Lorenzo Melgarejo, there was sufficient evidence to convict all the accused but only the motorcycle driver in the attack was convicted, sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Meanwhile, just hours after Khoury and Alban were in Congress on Wednesday, news came of yet another killing in the region. Criminal defense lawyer Milagros Aponte was shot dead in the coastal town of Casma, just outside her office as she returned from lunch with a client. One of Aponte’s clients faces charges of being one of the hired gunmen who murdered the mayor of Casma, Jose Montalvan, in December 2012.