A US federal court panel rejected an appeal by the former Peruvian president Alexander Toledo Manrique to stop his extradition to his country, where he is accused of accepting millions of dollars in bribes in a huge scandal of corruption that reached four Peruvian ex-presidents.
Toledo, 77, is accused of taking $20 million in bribes from Odebrecht, a giant Brazilian construction company that has admitted to US authorities that it bribed officials for decades to win contracts across Latin America.
The ex-president wanted to suspend his extradition waiting for his challenge against the decision of the United States Department of State to return him to Peru to be resolved.
Toledo, who was president of Peru from 2001 to 2006, was arrested in July 2019 at his home in Menlo Park, California. He was initially held in solitary confinement at Santa Rita Jail, about 40 miles (60 kilometers) east of San Francisco, but was released in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He since then he has been under house arrest
The judge in the case of extradition, Thomas Hixson, revoked Toledo’s bail Wednesday and ordered him to turn himself in to the United States Marshals Service at 9 a.m. Friday in San Francisco for return to prison, as requested by US Attorney Ismail Ramsey. . The prosecutor said the Marshals Service would take steps to turn him over to Peruvian authorities. However, the date on which he would do so is unknown.
The Odebrecht-related corruption scandal has rocked politics in Peru, where nearly every living former president is on trial or under investigation.
Former President Ollanta Humala is on trial over allegations that he and his wife received more than $3 million in odebrecht for their presidential campaigns in 2006 and 2011. Both deny any wrongdoing.
Former President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who finished his term in 2018, is under house arrest on similar charges.
Alan García, who ruled Peru from 2006 to 2011, committed suicide by shooting himself in the head in 2019 when authorities came to his home to arrest him in connection with the investigation into odebrecht.
In order to stop his extradition, Toledo argued that Peru had not presented any documents or shown probable cause. But the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said in its ruling that the Peruvian prosecutor’s office presented documents with sufficient charges to support the extradition.
The three-judge panel said the statements of two witnesses in the case of corruption against Toledo were sufficient “to establish probable cause in a hearing of extradition”.
In addition, Toledo admitted that $21 million in bribes were transferred to accounts controlled by his head of security, $17.5 million ended up in his mother-in-law’s company, and $500,000 was deposited in a bank account in his name or used to purchase real estate in his name,” the court wrote.
Toledo, who was Peru’s president from 2001 to 2006, also argued that he should not be returned because he would have to wait up to three years in a Peruvian jail to be formally indicted, which would put his life in danger due to his age and poor health.
The appeals court recognized the serious consequences for Toledo’s health of being locked up in a Peruvian prison where conditions were bad. But the judges said they based his ruling on the improbability that Toledo was successful in preventing his extradition in courts.
“The panel confirmed that the United States will serve the public interest by complying with a valid request for extraditionbecause proper compliance fosters relations between both countries and strengthens efforts to establish an international rule of law,” the court said.
Toledo has been a legal permanent resident of the United States residing in California and his ties to the state date back to the 1970s, when he was a student at Stanford University. He was a visiting scholar at Stanford until 2017, though the university said he held an unpaid position. He was working on a book.
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