Latin America

Peru’s opposition leader Keiko Fujimori in custody again

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Peru’s opposition leader Keiko Fujimori has returned to prison for a new 15-month pre-trial term amid ongoing investigations into accusations of corruption and money laundering.

Ms Fujimori has already spent 13 months in jail but Peru’s top constitutional court ordered her release in November.

Prosecutors appealed, and a judge ordered her return to prison saying she might interfere with the investigation.

She denies any wrongdoing and says the accusations are politically motivated.

Ms Fujimori, 44, has been accused of taking $1.2m (£940,000) in illegal campaign financing from the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht in 2011. But she has not been officially charged.

  • ‘The largest foreign bribery case in history’

She arrived in court to hear the end of Judge Víctor Zúñiga’s decision, and was immediately taken to Chorrillos women’s prison in Lima. Minutes later, she released a pre-recorded video on social media.

“This isn’t justice,” she said, vowing to give a “political response to this political persecution”. “As a woman, as a wife, as a mother, I am going to bring out all the strength that I have”.

The tone of the message seemed to mark a shift in her strategy – Ms Fujimori said last year she would take a break from politics and dedicate herself to her family.

Ms Fujimori also said her husband would seek support from foreign governments and groups to support her release. Her lawyer, Giuliana Loza, said the defence team would appeal against Mr Zúñiga’s ruling.

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A divisive figure in Peruvian politics, Ms Fujimori lost presidential election run-offs in 2016 and 2011. Her once influential conservative Popular Force party suffered a crushing defeat in legislative elections on Sunday, losing dozens of seats in the Congress it had dominated since 2016.

Her father, 81-year-old former President Alberto Fujimori, is serving a 25-year prison sentence for human rights abuses.

Despite their legal woes, the Fujimori family has retained the backing of hardcore supporters. But political commentators say last weekend’s election result suggests that Fujimorismo, the political movement named after them, may have finally collapsed.

Peru’s opposition leader Keiko Fujimori in custody again

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