Peru attorney general seeks detention for ex-President Humala

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 11, 2017 4:42 PM

LIMA (Reuters) - The Peruvian attorney general's office said on Tuesday it was seeking pre-trial detention for former President Ollanta Humala, who is under investigation for money laundering over allegations that he took illegal funds from Brazilian builder Odebrecht.

A hearing to rule on the request for the pre-trial detention for Humala and his wife, Nadine Heredia, was scheduled for Wednesday, the attorney general's office said on Twitter.

The attorney general's office did not provide additional details on why the request was made or if it was related to the ongoing probe by German Juarez, a public prosecutor who has accused Humala and Heredia of taking illegal funds from Odebrecht to help finance Humala's campaign.

Juarez traveled to Brazil this year to question Marcelo Odebrecht, the company's imprisoned former chief executive who has turned state's witness.

Humala, who governed Peru from 2011 to 2016, and Heredia have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and have vowed to cooperate fully with the investigation.

Humala's lawyer, Wilfredo Pedraza, said nothing had happened recently to justify the so-called "preventive prison," or pre-trial detention, request that is often used in Peru to keep suspects from fleeing or obstructing open investigations.

If the request for detaining Humala is approved by a judge, it would make him the second former Peruvian president whose arrest has been sought since Odebrecht acknowledged in a settlement with U.S. and Brazilian prosecutors late last year that it paid bribes across Latin America.

Earlier this year, a judge ordered former President Alejandro Toledo, whom prosecutors have accused of taking bribes from Odebrecht, to be detained for up to 18 months while former charges are prepared.

Judges in Peru often order suspects to spend several months to years in prison before a conviction. The practice has been criticized by some as unfair.

Toledo, who has denied wrongdoing, has refused to turn himself in and has alleged that Peru's justice system denied him due process for trying to imprison him before trial.

Odebrecht has said it paid $29 million in bribes in Peru between about 2005 and 2014 and has vowed to provide details on its kickback schemes to authorities.

(Reporting By Mitra Taj; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)