US seeks custody of Peru ex-president Toledo for extradition

LOS ANGELES: US attorneys asked a California judge on Wednesday to revoke the bail of former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo and prepare for his extradition to Peru, where he is wanted on corruption charges.

“Now that… the Secretary (of State) has authorized Toledo’s surrender, Toledo should be brought into custody so that the government may effectuate his surrender to Peruvian authorities,” prosecutors said in their written request to the court.

The request was filed in US District Court in San Francisco, and a hearing was set for March 9.

Toledo, a 76-year-old with a doctorate from Stanford University, served as Peru’s president from 2001 until 2006. He was detained in California in 2019, where he had returned to take up residence.

He is wanted by Peruvian prosecutors to determine his role in a bribery scandal involving a Brazilian construction conglomerate. He faces a possible 20-year prison term in Peru.

Toledo was put under house arrest in 2020 after posting bond, and has resided in Menlo Park near Stanford on condition that he wear an electronic ankle monitor at all times.

Prosecutors said Toledo’s “flight risk has increased beyond the point of adequate mitigation,” so he should no longer be allowed house arrest.

Toledo has sought to block his extradition over the Odebrecht case, in which he is accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes from the Brazilian conglomerate in exchange for favoured treatment in bidding on public works. Toledo denies all charges.

Federal Judge Thomas Hixson in September authorized Toledo’s extradition but left the final decision in the hands of the US State Department, which approved the request this week.

Testimony from an Israeli-Peruvian businessman, Josef Maiman, who was close to Toledo, and from Jorge Barata, Odebrecht’s representative in Peru, were key in the case. Both men said Toledo received bribes from Odebrecht.

The firm acknowledged paying bribes in Brazil and several nations around Latin America in a scandal dubbed Lava Jato (or Car Wash), which has put dozens of politicians and business figures behind bars.

Four other former Peruvian presidents currently face corruption investigations. They are Ollanta Humala (who ruled 2011-2016), Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (2016-2018), Martin Vizcarra (2018-2020) and Pedro Castillo (2021-2022).

Former President Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000) was convicted of corruption charges and is in prison. Another ex-president, Alan Garcia, died by suicide in 2019 as police were preparing to arrest him in the Odebrecht case.


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