A 24-year-old man has been arrested for punching a congressman on live television in Peru moments after the president was impeached and removed power Monday.
Carlos Ezeta managed to get near a media scrum while Popular Action congressman Ricardo Burga was being interviewed outside the Legislative Palace in Lima, and delivered a blow with his left hand that sent the politician stumbling.
Ezeta subsequently pointed at Burga before three police officers detained him. He was booked and charged with assault and resisting arrest, and as of Tuesday was being held at a police station house in Cercado de Lima, the historic city center.
Burga was among the 105 legislators who voted for President Martín Vizcarra’s removal.
Peruvian congressman Ricardo Burga (left) was holding a press conference outside the Legislative Palace in Lima after President Martīn Vizcarra was ousted from office. Carlos Ezeta (right) punched him in the face
Despite being in police custody, Carlos Ezeta went on his Instagram Stories on Tuesday and wrote: ‘They are accusing me of resistance to authority and it is false. I am collaborating with the police’
Martín Vizcarra faced his second impeachment trial over corruption allegations Monday and was removed from office after 105 members of Congress voted him out. The opposition accused him of receiving more than $630,000 in exchange for two construction projects while serving as governor of a small province in southern Peru
Ezeta somehow was allowed to maintain possession of his cellphone and posted a photo of the waiting area inside the precinct shortly before 1am local time Tuesday.
He then posted a selfie on his Instagram Stories feed and wrote, ‘They are accusing me of resistance to authority and it is false. I am collaborating with the police.’
Ezeta followed up with a second post and indicated, ‘I’m fine. I will be at the San Andres police station tonight. My uncle and Franco will be helping me as lawyers, everything is fine here with the police but there was no challenge to the police.’
Janet García begged authorities to show leniency and forgiveness towards her son after his attack on congressman Burga, who was critical of Vizcarra’s presidency.
Peruvian congressman Ricardo Burga (left) was punched by a demonstrator during a press conference outside the Legislative Palace on Monday night after President Martín Vizcarra (right) was impeached and removed from office
‘My son is calm, he is a hard worker, he helps me, I am a mother and father to him, my son is not like tha,’ García said Tuesday morning, according to Peruvian newspaper Expreso. ‘I know what he has done is wrong, forgive him. He has perhaps gotten carried away for the moment, he is sorry because he is not acting like that, my son is not violent.’
Ezeta could face up to six years in prison if he is convicted.
Lawmakers expressed anger over Vizcarra’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and cited alleged but unproven corruption allegations.
Carlos Ezeta was arrested and charged with resisting arrest and assault after he punched a politician outside the Peruvian congressional building after the Andean nation’s president was removed from office
Carlos Ezeta (center) could face up to six years in prison if he is found guilty of punching a politician
Former President Vizcarra announced he would not try to fight the ouster, while analysts called the action by legislators an overt and risky power grab in a country where he is highly popular but Congress is not.
Many of the legislators said they were casting their vote for his removal in the name of dead loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘Because of his negligence and incapacity we’ve lost thousands of compatriots,’ lawmaker Robinson Gupioc said during over five hours of debate.
At least 34,879 people have died among 922,333 infected by the virus in Peru, a nation of 32 million people.
Manuel Merino, head of the Peruvian Congress, was sworn is as interim president on Tuesday
Supporters of former President Martín Vizcarra are blocked from reaching the Legislative Palace in Peru during a clash with the police Tuesday, a day after Vizcarra was removed from office on allegations of corruption
Legislators brought the impeachment proceeding forward on allegations that Vizcarra received more than $630,000 in exchange for two construction projects while serving as governor of a small province in southern Peru from 2011 to 2014.
The allegations are being investigated, but Vizcarra’s supporters have questioned their veracity, noting that they come from construction managers themselves accused of corruption. The accusers could get any potential jail time reduced in exchange for the information.
In a late-night address, Vizcarra said he would not pursue legal options to challenge the removal vote, saying he opted to act with the best interests of the Peruvian people and the nation’s democracy in mind.
‘Today I am leaving the government palace,’ Vizcarra said. ‘Today I am going home.’
The head of Peru’s Congress, Manuel Merino, was sworn in as the Andean nation’s interim president Tuesday morning.
‘This is a difficult moment for the country,’ said Merino, a member of the center-right Popular Action party. ‘Today, the country does not look at the future with hope, but with worry.’
Vizcarra rose to the nation’s highest office in 2018 after then-President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned amid allegations that he had failed to disclose payments from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht to his private consulting firm.
Vizcarra survived the impeachment vote in September brought by opposition lawmakers who accused him of favoring a little-known singer known as Richard Swing.
The entertainer received nearly $50,000 in questionable contracts by the Ministry of Culture for activities like motivational speaking during the pandemic. Vizcarra denied any misconduct and lawmakers decided there weren’t grounds to remove him, though a probe continues.