Peru opposition leader Keiko Fujimori sent back to jail pending corruption trial | News | DW | 01.11.2018
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Peru opposition leader Keiko Fujimori sent back to jail pending corruption trial

Keiko Fujimori is accused of receiving about $1 million in illegal payments from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht. The former first daughter has described the efforts to imprison her as "political persecution."

A judge on Wednesday ordered Peru's opposition leader, Keiko Fujimori, back to jail over allegations she used her conservative party to launder $1.2 million (€1 million) for Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.

Judge Richard Concepcion ruled the 43-year-old daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori should be detained for 36 months as a preventive measure to ensure she doesn't obstruct the probe.

In a hearing that lasted over eight hours, Concepcion said he believed there was considerable proof to strongly suspect that Fujimori, a two-time presidential candidate, not only knew about the payments but had an active role in hiding the origin of the funds.

Concepcion described Fujimori, who hugged her husband and appeared to be holding back tears before she was led away by police officers, as a "high flight risk."

"Undoubtedly, preventive prison is the only measure that applies," he concluded.

'Judicial bias'

The Brazilian construction firm has admitted to paying nearly $800 million in bribes to politicians in several countries, including Peru. 

Fujimori has repeatedly denied taking any money from the company during her 2011 presidential run and described the prosecution's efforts to imprison her as "political persecution." She spent a week in police custody last month before being released on appeal.

Fujimori's lawyer told the court she would appeal.

"What I want to say to my wife is: they can make us suffer as they did today, but we will never give up," said Fujimori's US-born husband Mark Villanella. "What we saw today is a clear show of judicial bias. There is no basis for preventive detention."

Peru's constitution allows for suspects to be held without trial for up to 36 months in complex cases. But critics say the provision was being used excessively.

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Crackdown on corruption

Peru has launched a massive crackdown on corruption. Some of the nation's most prominent politicians, including four ex-presidents, are now under investigation or charged in connection with corruption probes. 

A referendum on toughening anti-corruption laws is scheduled for early December.

Former president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who narrowly defeated Keiko Fujimori in the 2016 presidential election, was forced to step down earlier this year due to threats of impeachment by Fujimori's Popular Force-controlled Congress over links to Odebrecht payments.

Last month, Peru's Supreme Court ordered Fujimori's father to return to jail to complete his 25-year jail sentence for human rights abuses during his decadelong rule. He was also found guilty of graft.

Kuczynski had granted the ailing former president a pardon last December. The decision was widely viewed as an attempt by Kuczynski to counter impeachment proceedings.

ap/bw (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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