Peru’s Supreme Court chief justice resigned Thursday after the publication of a series of audio recordings sparked a growing scandal over the sale of sentences and influence peddling.
“Given the institutional crisis that the judicial branch is going through, I present my irrevocable resignation from the post,” judge Duberli Rodriguez in a short letter published on the Supreme Court’s Twitter account.
Rodriguez had been under pressure from Supreme Court colleagues demanding he resign so someone else- completely untouched by the scandal — could be tasked with reorganizing the judicial system.
Peru’s judicial branch had announced a 90-day emergency on Wednesday, signed by Rodriguez and published in the El Peruano newspaper.
“In response to the judicial problems it is imperative that urgent and immediate measures are adopted to restore the normal, efficient and transparent development of jurisdictional activities,” the judicial authority’s resolution stated.
The National Council of the Magistracy’s (CNM) president Orlando Velasquez also resigned on Thursday after just three days in the job, saying he did so for “dignity.” The CNM is the body that nominates judges and prosecutors.
The news comes less than a week after Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra dismissed Justice Minister Salvador Heresi over the embarrassing revelations.
“For the health of the justice system reform, I’ve asked minister Heresi to resign,” Vizcarra had said on Twitter. “The period Peru is going through requires firm action.”
Vizcarra appointed a committee of six jurists headed by ex-chancellor Allan Wagner to deliver a judicial reform proposal.
He has called an extraordinary session in parliament for Friday to discuss the possibility of a blanket resignation of CNM magistrates.
The diffusion of inflammatory audio recordings began 10 days ago on investigative journalism website IDL-Reporteros and the Panorama program on television station Canal 5, after which the public prosecutor’s office opened an investigation into suspected influence peddling.
A number of judges and judicial officials implicated in the scandal have been suspended.
Heresi was sacked after a conversation between him and Supreme Court judge Cesar Hinostroza, also implicated in the affair, was played on television.
In the recording, Heresi asks Hinostroza to come to his office to talk to him about a legal initiative.
On Thursday evening, thousands of Peruvians shouting anti-corruption slogans marched in several cities in rallies called by labor unions and civil society groups.