US court denies ex-Peruvian president extradition stay
Apr 5, 2023, 6:13 PM | Updated: 6:24 pm
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A United States federal court on Wednesday denied former Peru President Alejandro Toledo Manrique’s appeal to stop his extradition to his native country to face charges he accepted millions of dollars in bribes from a Brazilian company.
Toledo, 77, had filed for a stay on his extradition pending a legal challenge to the U.S. State Department’s decision to send him back to Peru, where he is accused of taking $20 million in bribes from Odebrecht, a construction giant.
Toledo argued that Peru hadn’t submitted a charging document or shown probable cause. But the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said in its ruling that Peruvian prosecutors have filed charging documents that are sufficient to support Toledo’s extradition.
The three-member panel said statements made by two witnesses in the corruption case who testified against Toledo were enough “to establish probable cause in an extradition hearing.”
“Toledo, moreover, admitted that $21 million in bribe money was transferred into accounts under his former chief-of-security’s control, $17.5 million ended up in his mother-in-law’s company, and $500,000 was deposited in a bank account in his name or used to purchase real estate titled to him,” the court wrote.
Toledo also argued that he shouldn’t be sent back because it would mean waiting for up to three years in a Peruvian prison to be formally charged, which would put his life at risk because of his age and ill health.
The appeals court panel acknowledged Toledo risks serious impacts on his health if put in a Peruvian prison where conditions are dire. But the judges said they based their decision on the fact that Toledo was unlikely to succeed in challenging his extradition.
“The panel reaffirmed that the public interest will be served by the United States complying with a valid extradition application because proper compliance promotes relations between the two countries, and enhances efforts to establish an international rule of law and order,” the court said.
Toledo was arrested in July 2019 at his home in Menlo Park, California. He was held in solitary confinement at the Santa Rita Jail about 40 miles (60 kilometers) east of San Francisco but was released in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He has been under house arrest since then.
On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Ismail Ramsey in a court filing asked the judge in the extradition case to revoke his bail and send him back to jail. Ramsey said that the U.S. Marshals Service will move to turn him over to Peruvian authorities. But when that will happen was unclear.
Toledo, who was Peru’s president from 2001 to 2006, has been living in California, where he is a permanent legal resident and where he has ties going back to the 1970s, when he was a student at Stanford University.
He was a visiting scholar at Stanford as recently as 2017, though the school has said it was an unpaid position. He was working on a book.
The Odebrecht corruption scandal has shaken Peru’s politics, with nearly every living former president now on trial or under investigation.
Former President Ollanta Humala is standing trial in the corruption case. Prosecutors accused Humala and his wife of receiving over $3 million from Odebrecht for his presidential campaigns in 2006 and 2011. Both denied any wrongdoing.
Ex-leader Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who left office in 2018, is under house arrest for similar charges.
Former leader Alan García, in office from 2006 to 2011, shot himself in the head in 2019 as authorities arrived at his home to arrest him in connection with the Odebrecht probe.