Court weighs bid to lock up Peru presidential hopeful Fujimori

A Peruvian judge heard an application Monday for corruption-accused presidential hopeful Keiko Fujimori to be placed in pre-trial detention while the country nervously awaits the outcome of June 6 elections in which she ran for the top job.

Fujimori, who narrowly trails leftist rival Pedro Castillo according to the unconfirmed vote count, risks an imminent corruption trial if she loses the race.

She has already spent 16 months in pre-trial detention, and was freed in May last year due to the coronavirus outbreak. She was barred from leaving Peru or communicating with co-defendants or witnesses in the case.

On June 11, prosecutor Jose Domingo Perez asked an organized crime court to order Fujimori’s return to custody for allegedly having met a witness, so violating the conditions of her provisional freedom.

The witness, Miguel Angel Torres, had accompanied Fujimori to a post-election press conference as an advisor.

If the prosecutor’s bid to send her back behind bars is successful, but she is subsequently declared the winner of the election, she would be freed under Peruvian law to serve her term.

The trial would be postponed until after she had left office.

Judge Victor Zuniga presided over a hearing Monday, with Fujimori and her defense lawyer Giuliana Loza as well as Perez present to make arguments for and against her preventive return to prison.

Perez argued that Fujimori must be ordered back in detention “because of the seriousness of the crimes she is accused of,” adding she “systematically violated the rules of conduct of not communicating with witnesses.”

The judge will have three days to rule on Fujimori’s fate.

Castillo has taken 50.12 percent of the vote in the June 6 runoff election, holding a lead of some 44,000 votes over Fujimori, according to the unconfirmed count. 

The final result has been held up by a review of disputed votes, mainly from the camp of Fujimori, who has alleged widespread fraud.

She repeated her claims Monday, urging supporters on Twitter to come forward with evidence “of how Peru Libre cheated,” referring to Castillo’s party.

Castillo has rejected calls from Fujimori supporters for the election to be annulled.

Supporters of both candidates took part in demonstrations over the weekend demanding an end to the uncertainty.

Prosecutors have said they would seek a 30-year jail term for Fujimori on charges of taking money from scandal-tainted Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht to fund failed presidential bids in 2011 and 2016.

The 46-year-old daughter of corruption-convicted ex-president Alberto Fujimori, denies the charges.

Close Bitnami banner