US judge considers bail for ex-Peruvian president

National News
Alejandro Toledo

FILE – In this May 24, 2017 file photo, Peru’s former President Alejandro Toledo speaks at the United Nations. Toledo is appearing in court Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019 to again ask a federal judge in California to release him on bail while he fights extradition to his native country where he is wanted for corruption. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, file)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A U.S. judge in California said Thursday he wants to hear about detention options that don’t involve solitary confinement before deciding whether to release former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo on bail while he fights extradition to his native country, where he is wanted in a corruption scandal.

Toledo has only been allowed to leave his cell at Santa Rita Jail twice since U.S. marshals arrested him July 16 on an extradition request at his Menlo Park home, his attorney Graham Archer said.

On Thursday, he walked into the courtroom in a red inmate uniform and smiled and blew a kiss to his wife, Eliane Karp, who sat in the front row of the audience section. Karp refused to comment.

The jail in Alameda County, which contracts with the U.S. government, has determined that because Toledo’s is a high-profile case, it would be unsafe to house him anywhere other than the “separation unit,” Archer said

Magistrate Judge Thomas S. Hixson in San Francisco previously denied bail for Toledo after prosecutors argued that he was a flight risk and noted that officials found a suitcase with $40,000 in cash during his arrest.

Hixson asked prosecutors Thursday to present him with other detention options, saying the situation with Toledo, “it’s not a good one” and could mean “solitary confinement for a number of years.”

Archer said several friends, including Stanford professors, have offered money and property to secure Toledo’s release from custody.

The judge set another bond hearing for Sept. 12.

The Peruvian government requested Toledo’s extradition to stand trial on charges of influence peddling and money laundering.

The charges stem from allegations that he took $20 million in bribes from Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction company at the center of Latin America’s biggest corruption scandal.

Three days after the arrest of Toledo, Hixson ordered him held in custody, reasoning that if he fled, “this would be a diplomatically significant failure of the United States to live up to its treaty obligations to Peru.”

The defense countered that Toledo has been aware of the attempt to extradite him since early 2017 and had not tried to flee California, where they said he lived as a permanent legal resident.

Toledo, who has denied wrongdoing, was Peru’s president from 2001 to 2006.

He was a visiting scholar at Stanford University as recently as 2017, though the school has said it was an unpaid position.

The Odebrecht scandal also impacted other former presidents in Peru who are under investigation.

In April, former leader Alan García killed himself with a gunshot to his head as officers waited to arrest him in a graft probe linked to the scandal.

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