Brazen Peru prison escape as two inmates waltz to freedom with forged release orders

Two drug traffickers, including a man tied to an alleged architect of Peru’s recent oil kickback scandal, walked out of two Lima jails earlier this month with forged court orders of release in hand.

“What is surprising and warrants an explanation is that these (two individuals) walked out of jail in early February and only now, two weeks later, is the National Penitentiary Institute reporting the event,” said Congressman Juan Carlos Eguren, the head of Congress’ Justice Commission.

Christian Motte Ramírez Gastón and Colombian Aníbal Zapata Ávalos skipped out of jail this on Feb. 2 and 6, from Lima’s Lurigancho and Castro Castro prisons respectively.

Motte Ramírez was convicted to 20 years for drug trafficking in September 2005. He was arrested in Lima’s San Martin de Porres district, and 193 kilos of cocaine were seized. Before his escape from jail, Motte Ramírez was imprisoned in Lima’s infamous Lurigancho prison, where more than 10,000 inmates are jam-packed into a building originally intended to house fewer than 2,000.

Motte Ramírez and his father, Motte Piccone, are currently under investigation for money laundering. Piccone is described in media reports as an intimate friend of Romulo Leon Alegria, a former congressman whose intercepted phone conversations about an alleged oil concession kickback scheme that rocked Peru’s government, prompting a slew of resignations in President Alan Garcia’s Cabinet.

The incident has generated a blame-war between Peru’s Justice Department and National Penitentiary Institute, or Inpe. Justice Minister Rosario Fernández and the head of Inpe, Leonardo Caparrós, are to appear before Congress’ Justice Commission this week, daily newspaper Correo reported.

Lima Court Judge César Tuya Jara — who allegedly signed the habeas corpus for both convicts, claims that his signature was forged on both documents. And, Tuya said, he was on vacation when the documents were allegedly signed and authorized.

According to daily El Correo, a “fingerprint mafia” is operating in Peru, and holds the forged fingerprints, and signatures of more than 30 judges.

The prints and signatures are lifted from identification documents and then used to forge property titles, marriage certificates, drivers licenses, students IDs, credit card applications, and habeas corpus documents.

The writ of habeas corpus has historically been an important instrument for the safeguarding of individual freedom against arbitrary state action, and has been effective since 1897 in Peru. It protects a person from unlawful detention.

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