US Marshals arrest former Peruvian president Toledo pending extradition

LIMA – Peru’s fugitive president Alejandro Celestino Toledo Manrique has been arrested Tuesday in California following an extradition request filed a year ago by his country’s authorities, it was reported by both US and Peruvian sources.

 The 73-year-old Toledo, who was president between 2001 and 2006, faces corruption charges linked to the Odebrecht case, similar to those that led to President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s resignation in March 2018. Kuczynski had been prime minster under Toledo.

The US Marshals Service arrested Toledo and he appeared before US Magistrate Judge Thomas S Hixson in Northern California, the US Justice Department said. He was ordered held in custody pending a hearing on Friday, according to department spokeswoman Nicole Navas.

Toledo’s court appearance was “part of the process aimed at securing his return” to Peru, the attorney general’s office in Lima said on Twitter.

The former president is wanted in his home country on accusations of taking $20m in bribes from Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction company at the centre of Latin America’s biggest corruption scandal. Odebrecht has admitted to paying $800m to officials throughout the region in exchange for lucrative public works contracts.

Heriberto Benitez, Toledo’s lawyer in Lima, told local radio station RPP that the defence will try to show that the ex-president faces political persecution in Peru.

Toledo, who has denied any wrongdoing, has been a visiting scholar at Stanford University as recently as 2017, though the school has said it was an unpaid position.

In March, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office said Toledo was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication and was briefly detained.

The Odebrecht scandal also has tainted the careers of other former presidents in Peru who are under investigation. The 80-year old PPK is under house arrest for 36 months. And in April, Alan Garcia mortally wounded himself with a gunshot to his head as officers waited to arrest him in a corruption probe also linked to the scandal.–MercoPress