SAN FRANCISCO – The US federal judge handling Peru’s request to extradite former President Alejandro Toledo on corruption charges has once again denied bail for the ex-head of state.
Magistrate Judge Thomas S. Hixson, who in July had accepted prosecutors’ argument that the 73-year-old Peruvian represented a flight risk and declined to set bail, on Thursday rejected the new evidence presented by the defense.
Hixson said at the hearing in San Francisco that he remains unconvinced by the argument that Toledo lacks the financial means for abandoning the country, noting that the former president is a person with connections, people around him with large amounts of assets and a place to flee.
He was referring to Israel, a country cited by prosecutors as a possible destination for Toledo considering that his wife, Eliane Karp, is an Israeli citizen and the Jewish state does not have an extradition treaty with Peru.
Thursday’s hearing ended with Karp creating a scene inside the courtroom.
She accused (presumably the judge and prosecutors) of “killing” Toledo – who has been held in solitary confinement at Santa Rita Jail since his arrest due to the high-profile nature of his case – and said they would be personally responsible for his death.
The 65-year-old Karp was dragged away by guards and fell to the ground amid the tumult.
Toledo’s wife, who has attended every hearing since the extradition case began with the former president’s arrest almost two months ago, had been warned by guards earlier in the hearing after she loudly objected to prosecutors’ arguments.
Hixson has set the next hearing in the case for the morning on Oct. 17, when the extradition trial will begin in earnest.
Peru submitted the extradition request to Washington in May 2018, after a judge in Lima found evidence that Toledo took a $20 million bribe from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht in exchange for awarding the company a lucrative highway contract during his 2001-2006 presidency.
The lawyer who represented Toledo at his first bail hearing in July, Joseph Russoniello, said that his client, who is of mixed indigenous and European descent, could not get a fair trial in Peru due to discrimination and political animus.
The charges against Toledo arise 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 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 the payment of hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to officials in more than a dozen countries.
Toledo is just one of the Peruvian political heavyweights who have been caught up in the Odebrecht scandal, including presidential successors Alan Garcia, Ollanta Humala and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
Garcia shot himself when police came to his home on April 16 to take him into custody on Odebrecht-related charges and later died at a Lima hospital.
In May, Humala and his wife, Nadine Heredia, were charged with money laundering in connection with the receipt of illegal campaign contributions from Odebrecht.
Kuczynski, who served in Toledo’s administration, resigned the presidency in March 2018 over allegations he lied to Congress about more than $782,000 that a financial-consulting business he owned, Miami-based Westfield Capital Ltd., received between 2004 and 2007 from Odebrecht.