LIMA – The Peruvian judiciary said on Friday that an appellate court rejected an appeal from former President Ollanta Humala and his wife against their being held pending trial on yet-to-be-formulated charges of money laundering.
The appellate judges ruled following four days of deliberations, the judiciary said on social media.
Experts consulted by media outlets said that Humala, who governed from 2011-2016, and Nadine Heredia could take their case to the Supreme Court.
Judge Richard Concepcion’s July 13 decision to order the former first couple jailed for 18 months pending trial was controversial from the beginning.
For one thing, prosecutors have yet to formally indict the pair, and many legal analysts noted that while flight risk is usually the reason for imposing pre-trial detention, the possibility of Humala and Heredia’s seeking to escape justice was virtually nil.
Heredia, who had left Peru for Switzerland to accept a senior position with a UN agency, resigned the job and came back when ordered to do so by a judge.
“If anything has been perceptible in recent months it’s that Humala and his wife were complying with all of the prosecution’s conditions and it would seem that the circumstances do not warrant such an intense and extreme measure,” Carlos Rivera, director of the Legal Defense Institute, told EFE earlier this month.
Humala and Heredia – chair of her husband’s party – are accused of accepting campaign contributions from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, which has acknowledged paying bribes to obtain public works contracts in Peru during the period 2001-2011.
Alejandro Toledo, who was president from 2001-2006, is accused of awarded Odebrecht a major highway project in exchange for $20 million.
Weeks after Toledo left Peru in January, a court in Lima ordered his arrest, but he remains out of the country, most likely in the United States.
Former President Alan Garcia is suspected of taking kickbacks from Odebrecht in the award of a contract to build a metro line in the capital.
Though Garcia was questioned this week by a judge, he is not behind bars.