LIMA – Debate continued in Peru on Friday as former President Ollanta Humala began 18 months of pre-trial detention Friday at the same police lockup where one of his predecessors, Alberto Fujimori, is serving a life sentence for extrajudicial killings and corruption.
Humala’s wife and co-defendant, Nadine Heredia, was taken to a women’s prison in Lima amid widespread expressions of concern about the fate of the couple’s three children, ages 15, 13 and 6.
The former president and first lady spent the night in cells at the Lima courthouse after the judge hearing a case against them for money laundering and conspiracy ordered them held in pre-trial detention.
While authorities deliberated on where to incarcerate the pair, Heredia’s attorney, Wilfredo Pedraza, insisted on the need to ensure their safety and that Humala should receive the same consideration given Fujimori.
Shortly after 2:00 pm, Humala was taken to Barbadillo prison, a detention facility inside the police headquarters complex whose only other inmate is Fujimori.
Earlier Friday, incumbent President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said that Peru was experiencing “a historic and very sad day” in the wake of Judge Richard Concepcion’s decision to jail the couple.
“I hope the trial of Mr. Humala takes places quickly and with transparency,” the president said. “I will not opine on the trial, I ask only that it be rapid, because preventive detention is a very controversial matter.”
Ollanta Humala’s father, an attorney and founder of an indigenous-based nationalist movement, called the judge an “ass.”
Isaac Humala, who is estranged from his son and daughter-in-law due to political differences, pointed out that even if the allegations that they accepted money from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht were true, corporate campaign contributions are not illegal in Peru.
Keiko Fujimori, Alberto’s daughter and the loser in the 2011 election that made Humala president, said Concepcion’s decision to jail the couple demonstrated the independence of the Peruvian courts.
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 in the current case is close to zero.
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.