Former public defence attorney, Walter Albán, has replaced Wilfredo Pedraza as minister of interior after accusations suggested his ministry had provided police protection to Óscar López Meneses, a former official working under the convicted ex-president, Alberto Fujimori.
López Meneses was an operator for Vladimiro Montesinos, the head of intelligence during the Fujimori presidency. In 2012 he received a four-year suspended prison sentence for his involvement in intercepting telephones, stealing public funds and holding illegal arms. Montesinos is also in prison for drug trafficking, bribery, and murder, among other charges, while Fujimori is serving time for various crimes, including murder, kidnapping, embezzlement, and bribery.
Pedraza stepped down from his position in the wake of the revelations, but denies any involvement in ordering the police protection. Several police officers have also been removed from their posts.
The scandal broke after newspaper El Comercio published information last week about López Meneses’s ties with high-ranking police officials, based on a series of leaked documents that revealed a close relationship with certain members of police departments and military forces. The revelations were followed by photographs showing López Meneses at a birthday party with former head of the Seventh Police Division, responsible for the police units protecting López Meneses’s property.
According to the newspaper, there is evidence that López Meneses may have received $150,000 for his work with Montesinos, which included convincing defectors from other parties to join the Fujimoristas.
Meanwhile, López Meneses himself has added more controversy to the scandal after stating that he “actively supported” president Ollanta Humala’s campaign in 2006. Humala has denied knowing López Meneses or of any knowledge of the supposed agreement, saying it was a case of “police corruption”.
General Guillermo Aldo Miranda Soria, executive director of the civilian security division of the national police, was also fired after it was revealed he had given the order to protect López Meneses.
Albán has served as ombudsman during two different terms, and since 2011 has been Peru’s permanent representative to the Organisation of American States (OAS).
Albán has confirmed that the López Meneses case will be subject to an in-depth investigation.