Ousted Peru president Pedro Castillo's jail term extended as seven more protesters killed

At least 15 people have died in clashes with security forces, according to authorities

Pedro Castillo addresses supporters at a rally in Lima in 2021. Mr Castillo has said he remains Peru's lawful president. Reuters
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Peru's former president Pedro Castillo had his pre-trial detention extended to 18 months as clashes between the military and protesters left at least seven more dead in the southern city of Ayacucho.

The clashes took place “in various parts of the city”, said the regional health department. One clash near Ayacucho airport left two people dead, according to the Peruvian Ombudsman.

A judicial panel within the Supreme Court extended Mr Castillo's period of pre-trial detention on Thursday as prosecutors continued an investigation into criminal charges against him.

The decision did not reference accusations faced by Mr Castillo, who has been charged with rebellion and conspiracy, but a Supreme Court judge heading up the panel cited the risk of flight by the deposed president.

Mr Castillo has denied all the charges and has said he remains the country's lawful president.

Protesters gathered outside the jail where he was detained, holding up banners criticising new President Dina Boluarte and calling for Congress to be shut.

“We only want the voice of the people to be heard. The people are demanding that they bring back our president,” said protester Gloria Machuca.

Protests have threatened logistics at major copper mines and led to a curfew being declared across large parts of the Andean country.

Protesters clash with police in Lima, Peru, on December 15. EPA

The leftist Mr Castillo, a former teacher and son of peasant farmers, won a narrow election victory last year running under the banner of the Marxist Free Peru party.

He was removed by an overwhelming vote of legislators who accused him of “permanent moral incapacity” a few hours after he ordered the Congress dissolved on December 7.

Four nations led by leftist presidents — Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia and Mexico — this week signed a joint statement declaring Mr Castillo “a victim of undemocratic harassment”.

A bloc of left-wing countries meeting in Havana, including Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua, also backed the jailed Mr Castillo, rejecting what they described as “the political framework created by right-wing forces”.

Foreign Minister Ana Cecilia Gervasi, new to the post after Ms Boluarte took over from Mr Castillo last week, responded on Thursday morning by summoning home Peru's ambassadors in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia and Mexico for consultation.

Peru's constitution allows a president to removed by Congress, but only if MPs twice approve motions of no confidence in the president's Cabinet, which did not happen on the day of his removal last Wednesday.

Protesters continued to block roads on Thursday, despite the government's enacting a state of emergency a day earlier. That granted special powers to the armed forces and police, and limited citizens' freedoms, including the right to assembly.

The public ombudsman said the armed forces had used firearms and dropped tear gas bombs on protesters from helicopters, and demanded the practices be immediately stopped.

Updated: December 16, 2022, 7:43 AM
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