Peruvian model faces four years in jail for posing nude with Peruvian flag

Dancer and model Leisy Suárez, who was photographed nude astride a horse saddled with a Peruvian flag, could face up to four years in jail for allegedly desecrating a national emblem, according to Edilberto Bejarano Salas, the Defense Minister’s attorney.Bejarano, who Thursday formally pressed criminal charges against Suárez, said it was “an offense,” according to Peruvian law, to pose nude on a horse covered by Peru’s flag.Peru’s penal code specifies that “a person who, publicly or via any type of media, verbally or physically offends, desecrates, insults or holds in disdain the country’s national emblems or the memory of Peru’s national heroes” can face up to a maximum of four years in jail.

The suggestive photo, published on the cover of D’Farandula entertainment magazine a few days prior to Peru’s 187th anniversary of independence from Spain, caused an uproar in Lima, angering politicians and legislators.

“Humiliating our national emblems cannot be permitted,” said Peru’s Defense Minister, Antero Flores Araoz. “We must respect patriotic symbols. The flag, the coat of arms and the anthem cannot be humiliated. On the contrary, they must be absolutely respected.”

Anyone who offends the national emblems of Peru “will be criminally prosecuted for offending the country, which is an act we cannot permit,” he added.

Peru’s Construction Minister, Enrique Cornejo, considered the photo as a clear example of “bad taste” and asked his colleague, Education Minister José Antonio Chang, to reinforce civic education in Peru’s schools to ensure young Peruvians learn to respect the nation’s emblems.

“It’s one thing to wrap your body in the flag, but quite another thing to be naked and use it as a horse’s saddle,” said Peruvian lawyer Mario Amoretti. Suárez should be punished, he argued.

But, according to Suárez’s lawyer, César Nakasaki, “no crime has been committed because the photos are an artistic expression, were taken by a showbiz personality, and because they were taken on the eve of Peru’s national holiday.”

“I am not afraid of a lawsuit because I haven’t committed a crime,” said Suárez, 21, in comments to RPP. “I love Peru and I show it with my body and my soul,” she added. “I will travel to Argentina to take more pictures with patriotic symbols. There is no better way to promote our roots.”

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