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Peruvian coup plot against Pedro Castillo foiled after recording of former intelligence chief leaked

FEARS of a coup against Peru’s Pedro Castillo have intensified after the discovery of an alleged bribery plot by a leading supporter of his rival Keiko Fujimori aimed at preventing him from becoming president.

Plans to block the self-declared Marxist-Leninist from leading the Andean nation are alleged to be spearheaded by brutal former intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos.

He led the violence and oppression that marked the regime of Ms Fujimori’s father Alberto, who ruled between 1990 and 2000.

Mr Montesinos is serving a 25-year prison sentence for crimes committed during his time as chief of the National Intelligence Service, including bribing elected congressmen into leaving the opposition and joining the pro-Fujimori grouping.

He had strong links to the US Central Intelligence Agency and was believed to have received some $10 million (£7.21m) from US spooks for so-called “anti-terrorist activity.”

Despite being behind bars, Mr Montesinos is alleged to have co-ordinated the attempted bribery of three of the four National Jury of Elections (JNE) judges to annul some 200,000 votes in rural and poor areas, which would have tipped the balance in favour of Ms Fujimori.

Mr Montesinos is alleged to have used a telephone in the Callao Naval Base’s maximum-security prison to call retired military officer Pedro Rejas. 

The Peruvian navy had not denied the allegations as the Morning Star went to press.

Mr Rejas recorded the calls and sent them to former parliamentarian Fernando Olivera.

In the recordings, a speaker thought to be Mr Montesinos is heard ordering Mr Rejas to contact politician Guillermo Sendon to bribe the electoral judges.

In another secret recording, Mr Sendon reportedly claims that JNE member Luis Carlos Arce Cordova demanded a sum of $3 million (£2.16m) for each of the magistrates to accept the legal challenges submitted by Ms Fujimori following the election earlier this month.

Mr Sendon has acknowledged the veracity of the conversation with the JNE chief but claimed he was only “going with the flow” to see if there really was a plot to organise electoral fraud.

The JNE has announced that trade union leader Mr Castillo received 8,835,579 votes, finishing ahead of Ms Fujimori by a margin of 44,058.

Observers, even including the Washington-based Organisation of American States, declared the election free, fair and transparent, and did not note any serious irregularities.

But Ms Fujimori has lodged a number of legal complaints which could hold up the official announcement of Mr Castillo’s victory by weeks. Meanwhile mass protests, including a march in the capital Lima on Saturday, have defended the result.

Last week the JNE suspended Mr Arce over alleged conflicts of interest, lack of transparency and bias in favour of Ms Fujimori’s Popular Force party.

Earlier this month a group of retired army officers signed a letter calling for Mr Castillo’s victory not to be recognised, sparking fears of a military coup.

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