Alejandro Toledo: Peru ex-president faces corruption charges after US arrest

Alejandro Toledo, Peru’s former president, was arrested in northern California on Tuesday. Photograph: Martín Mejía/Associated Press. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

NEW YORK, Jul 17, 2019, The Guardian. Peru’s former president Alejandro Toledo has been arrested in the United States following an extradition request from his home country where he faces corruption charges. Toledo, who governed from 2001 to 2006, was arrested in northern California on Tuesday and ordered held in custody pending a hearing on Friday, according to the US justice department, reported The Guardian.

The former president is a fugitive from Peruvian justice for allegedly receiving $20m from Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction company at the center of Latin America’s biggest corruption scandal.

Odebrecht has admitted to paying $800m to officials throughout the region in exchange for lucrative public works contracts.

Peru formally requested his extradition from the United States a year ago.

“This will be the ex-president’s first appearance before US judicial authorities, as part of the process aiming to return him to the country,” the public ministry said in a post.

Toledo is one of four former Peruvian presidents to be sucked into the vast Odebrecht scandal: Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was arrested in April over allegations of bribery linked to the investigation. His predecessor Ollanta Humala was detained in 2017 and awaits trial.

Humala’s predecessor, Alán García, shot himself in the head to avoid arrest in April, also in connection with alleged bribes from the Brazilian builder.

Heriberto Benítez, Toledo’s lawyer in Lima, told local radio station RPP that the defense will try to show that the ex-president faces political persecution in Peru.

Toledo, 73, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. He had been a visiting scholar at Stanford University as recently as 2017, though the school has said it was an unpaid position.

In March, the San Mateo county sheriff’s office said Toledo was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication and was briefly detained.

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