Peru president to face corruption probe when term ends

Lima (AFP) –

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Peru state prosecutors have said they intend to open a corruption investigation into President Martin Vizcarra when his term ends in July next year.

"We have decided that there are reasons to investigate the president of the Republic," said a statement Friday from the prosecutors' office, based on a report from a provincial prosecutor focusing on public sector corruption.

The head of state enjoys immunity from prosecution, meaning the investigation is suspended until he leaves office on July 28, 2020, the statement said.

Vizcarra is under fire after recordings were leaked in which he is heard telling aides to hide details from investigators of the controversial hiring of a popular singer, Richard Cisneros -- stage name Richard Swing -- as a paid cultural advisor.

The Peruvian leader last month survived an impeachment vote in Congress that was launched over the allegations.

Public support for the president -- who has waged an anti-corruption crusade since taking office in 2018 -- has remained high throughout the battle in Congress, with eight out of 10 Peruvians wanting him to continue until the end of his mandate.

Peruvians made their support clear on social networks and in pot-banging street protests.

Peru has been politically unstable in recent years, with its four previous presidents implicated in Latin America's sprawling Odebrecht corruption scandal.