Former president Toledo lands in Peru after extradition from US

Lima, Apr 23 (EFE).- Former Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo landed in Peru on Sunday after he was extradited from the United States to face corruption charges.

Toledo is accused of taking a $20 million bribe from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht in exchange for awarding the company a lucrative highway contract during his 2001-2006 presidency.

Toledo arrived at Jorge Chávez Airport on a commercial flight from Los Angeles, where he will be transferred for an identity recognition hearing.

He is then expected to be taken to Barbadillo prison, where former presidents Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000) and Pedro Castillo (2021-2022) are being held.

Toledo was arrested in July 2019 at his home in Menlo Park, California, pursuant to an extradition request submitted by Peru in May 2018. The ex-president had settled in northern California after receiving an appointment as a visiting scholar at Stanford University, his alma mater.

Deemed a flight risk, Toledo spent eight months behind bars before he was granted home confinement in March 2020 due to Covid-19.

US Magistrate Judge Thomas Hixson ruled in September 2021 that Toledo could be extradited and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken subsequently approved sending the ex-president home to face justice.

He was originally supposed to turn himself in on April 7, but a federal appellate court suspended the order for 14 days to allow his lawyers time to pursue one last appeal, which was rejected last week.

“I am profoundly disappointed with what has happened in the (US) Department of Justice and Department of State, but that does not take away my gratitude to this country that has given me everything,” Toledo told EFE.

The charges against Toledo arose from an investigation spurred by a massive settlement that Odebrecht and its petrochemical unit, Braskem, reached in December 2016 with authorities in the US, Brazil and Switzerland.

The Brazilian companies pleaded guilty and agreed to pay at least $3.5 billion to resolve charges arising out of bid-rigging schemes that began as early as 2001 and involved hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes being paid to officials in more than a dozen countries.

Toledo is just one of the Peruvian political heavyweights to have been caught up in the Odebrecht scandal, including his successors as president Alan Garcia, Ollanta Humala and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.

Garcia took his own life in April 2019 when police came to his home in Lima to arrest him. Kuczynski, 84, has been awaiting trial under house arrest since 2019, while the 60-year-old Humala remains under investigation.

Another figure implicated in the Odebrecht scandal is three-time presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori, daughter of disgraced former President Alberto Fujimori, who is serving life in prison for massacres committed during his 1990-2000 rule. EFE


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