Peru: Keiko Fujimori does not return to pre-trial detention

While the official results of the June 6 presidential election have not been announced, Peruvian justice announced Monday that right-wing populist candidate Keiko Fujimori will not return to pre-trial detention in connection with an investigation for corruption. 

Keiko Fujimori will not return to pre-trial detention. While the official results of the presidential election of June 6 have not been announced , the Peruvian justice rejected, Monday, June 21, the request of the prosecutor José Domingo Pérez to revoke the conditional freedom enjoyed by the candidate of the populist right. , at the heart of a corruption investigation.

“The request of the public prosecutor is declared unfounded […] to revoke the conditional liberty” of Keiko Fujimori and “place her again in preventive detention”, estimated the judge Victor Zuñiga, after a hearing of two hours which took place in the presence of Keiko Fujimori, his lawyer and the prosecutor José Domingo Pérez who had requested his placement in pre-trial detention.

José Domingo Pérez had demanded on June 10 that the conditional freedom enjoyed by the candidate be “revoked”. He accused him of having met a witness in a case of money laundering and illicit financing of his past presidential campaigns.

Party leader Fuerza Popular has already spent 16 months in pre-trial detention  in the case of alleged bribes received from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht during her 2011 and 2016 campaigns, charges she rejects.

Keiko Fujimori “systematically violates the rules of conduct consisting in not communicating with witnesses”, pleaded at the hearing José Domingo Pérez, who qualified the attitude of the candidate of “provocative”.

Initially planned in virtual because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the hearing finally took place in person after a request from the defense, accepted by the judge.

Prosecutor Pérez opposed this request, believing that the candidate’s defense wanted to politicize the hearing in the midst of an electoral context. Several dozen supporters of Keiko Fujimori gathered in front of the court.

Up to 30 years in prison required

The prosecutor’s request came just four days after the second round of the presidential election in Peru, the final results of which are still not known, more than two weeks after the vote.

After 100% of the ballots were counted, the radical left candidate, Pedro Castillo, a 51-year-old teacher and trade unionist, leads the second round with 50.12% of the vote , an advance of around 44,000 votes. .

But the National Electoral Jury (JNE), which must announce the results, is still studying the appeals filed by the candidates.

The daughter of ex-president Alberto Fujimori, who is himself serving a 25-year prison sentence for corruption and crimes against humanity, has increased accusations of “fraud” against her opponent. She called for the invalidation of several tens of thousands of votes.

At the end of the vote, the electoral observation mission of the Organization of American States (OAS), however, qualified the ballot as “positive”, without “serious irregularities”.

Keiko Fujimori, 46, was able to stand for election despite the pending investigation. Released from prison in May 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, she is however banned from traveling outside Peru or from communicating with co-defendants or witnesses in this case.

After 28 months of investigation, the prosecutor Pérez indicted in this case 41 other people for alleged offenses of “organized crime, money laundering, obstruction of justice and false declaration”.

The prosecutor’s office notably obtained at the end of 2019 the confession of a former Odebrecht executive, Luiz Eduardo da Rocha Soares, concerning a bribe of a million dollars to pay for the Fuerza Popular campaign in 2011.

If she fails a third time in the second round of the presidential election, Keiko Fujimori will be tried in the context of this case for which the prosecution requested against her at the end of March 30 years in prison. 

In the event of victory, the heir to Fujimorism, this mixture of authoritarian populism, societal conservatism and economic liberalism, will benefit from presidential immunity for at least five years.

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