The first trial of a former president of Peru begins in the Odebrecht case

The Peruvian justice system will seat former President Ollanta Humala and his wife Nadine Heredia on Monday in the dock, in the first oral trial against a former president of this country for the mega-corruption scandal of the Brazilian Odebrecht.

Humala, 59, is a former army lieutenant colonel who governed between 2011 and 2016, whom the prosecution accuses of money laundering for receiving illegal contributions of three million dollars for the campaign that brought him to power.

The hearing that opens the process is scheduled for 09:00 (14:00 GMT), according to the summons issued by the Judiciary.

The trial will be virtual due to the biosecurity restrictions in closed spaces in force in Peru, one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic with some 210,000 deaths and 3.5 million covid-19 infections.

The prosecution requested 20 years in prison for Humala and 26 years for his wife for "Concealment of real estate purchases with Odebrecht money".

Judge Nayko Coronado, of the Third National Collegiate Criminal Court, presides over the court of three magistrates that will decide the fate of the Humala couple and nine other defendants, including Nadine Heredia’s brother and mother.

The accusation presented in May 2019 by prosecutor Germán Juárez includes a request to dissolve Humala’s Peruvian Nationalist Party, accused of being a gang that received illegal money to finance the 2011 and 2006 campaigns.

The former president and his wife, 45, already spent nine months in preventive detention in 2017-2018 for this case.

– First trial by Odebrecht –

This is the first formal accusation against a former Peruvian president who comes to trial for the Odebrecht scandal, a company that acknowledged in 2016 that it had distributed tens of millions of dollars in Peru in bribes and illegal campaign donations since the beginning of the 21st century.

Humala is the first of a total of four presidents to go to trial for the Odebrecht corruption plot in Peru, in a period that covers the last two decades.

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The Peruvian prosecutor presented to the court a list of 285 witnesses to question in this case.

Among the witnesses cited are leaders of the Brazilian Odebrecht such as Marcelo Odebrecht, Luiz Mameri and Jorge Barata, former head of the company in Peru, among others.

Humala tried to return to the presidency in the 2021 elections, but he got just 1.3% of the vote and his party did not win any seats in parliament.

– The Odebrecht plot –

The other three former governors splashed by Odebrecht are Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (2016-2018), Alan García (2006-2011) and Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006).

Former Odebrecht bosses confessed to Peruvian prosecutors to have illegally distributed millions of dollars among politicians. That includes opposition leader Keiko Fujimori, whose trial could begin before the end of the year.

Kuczynski, 83, has been under house arrest for three years. He resigned from the presidency in March 2018 on the eve of Congress impeaching him over the Odebrecht scandal.

He had always denied having ties with the construction company, until it denied it, saying that it had paid him for advice.

Alejandro Toledo, 75 years old and under house arrest in Palo Alto (California, United States), is awaiting the decision of the US government on the extradition requested by Peru after a California court gave the green light last September.

The Peruvian prosecutor’s office accuses him of receiving 20 million dollars in bribes from Odebrecht in exchange for public works contracts during his government.

Finally Alan García, leader of the historic social democratic party APRA, committed suicide when he was going to be arrested in April 2019. He was 69 years old.

A preliminary arrest warrant weighed against him for an investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office into the scandal of illegal campaign contributions and bribes by the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, accusations that he always denied.

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