July 25, 2021

Keiko Fujimori does not return to pre-trial detention

Keiko Fujimori, the populist right-wing candidate in the second round of the presidential election in Peru, will not return to pre-trial detention as part of an investigation for corruption, the Peruvian justice ruled on Monday, June 21, while the country is still waiting to know the outcome of the June 6 ballot.

“The prosecution’s request is declared unfounded (…) to revoke parole “ de Keiko Fujimori et la “Place again in preventive detention”, judged Judge Victor Zuñiga.

The latter ruled at the end of a two-hour hearing which took place in the presence of Mr.me Fujimori, his lawyer and the prosecutor José Domingo Pérez who had requested his placement in pre-trial detention.

Mr. Pérez had demanded on June 10 that the candidate enjoy parole “Revoked”. He accused him of having met a witness in a case of money laundering and illicit financing of his past presidential campaigns.

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Already sixteen months spent in pre-trial detention

The leader of the Fuerza Popular party has already spent sixteen months in pre-trial detention in this case of alleged bribes received from the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht during its 2011 and 2016 campaigns, accusations she rejects.

Keiko Fujimori “Systematically violates the rules of conduct consisting in not communicating with witnesses”, pleaded at the hearing Mr. Pérez, who qualified the attitude of the candidate of “Provocative”.

Initially planned in virtual because of the Covid-19 epidemic, 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 Mme Fujimori had gathered outside the courthouse.

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, led the second round with 50.12% of the vote, an advance of around 44,000 votes.

Examination of appeals

But the National Electoral Jury (JNE), which is to announce the results, is still examining the appeals filed by the candidates. The daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000), who himself is serving a twenty-five-year prison sentence for corruption and crime against humanity, has stepped up charges of « cheats » against his 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”.

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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 twenty-eight months of investigation, the prosecutor Pérez indicted in this case 41 other people for alleged crimes 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 thirty years in prison against her at the end of March. In case 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.

The World with AFP