Ollanta Humala and wife detained in corruption probe

Pauline Gross
July 15, 2017

Peru's former President Ollanta Humala and his wife Nadine Heredia will be jailed pending an investigation into money laundering during two election campaigns, a court ruled Thursday.

Both on arrival at the court and on their transfer and entry to the carceleta received the support of a large group of supporters who chanted slogans to support Humala and condemning the preventive detention order for 18 months.

Humala is Peru's second former leader to face the threat of jail as part of the investigation into a vast bribery scheme mounted by Brazilian construction companies to win contracts at home and overseas.

"Here's a president who rose to the presidency and governed us with an electoral campaign built on illicit money. That's serious because it morally wounds society", Juarez said.

Humala, a former military officer who led Peru from 2011 to 2016, turned himself in with Heredia, the co-founder of his nationalist party, immediately after the ruling.

Humala ran an unsuccessful presidential bid in 2006 as an ally of Chavez before winning the 2011 election, when he recast himself as a more moderate leftist like Lula.

A woman protests against former president Ollanta Humala outside the courtroom where prosecutor German Juarez asked that Humala and his wife Nadine Heredia be placed under arrest in Lima Peru Wednesday

The 55-year-old former leader, who didn't attend the hearing, has denied the charges, calling them baseless.

As the couple drove from their home late Thursday toward the courthouse with a heavy escort, Humala said in a Tweet: "This confirms the abuse of power which we will confront in defense of our rights and those of everyone".

Humala, Heredia and Toledo have been accused of accepting millions in bribes, in the form of illegal campaign contributions, from major firms, including Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, which were later granted lucrative public works contracts.

Prosecutors filed the petition for the couple's detention earlier in the week, arguing they might flee Peru to evade justice.

Peru believes Toledo is living in the U.S. state of California and has asked U.S. President Donald Trump to consider deporting him to face charges of taking bribes in a far-reaching regional graft probe. The company acknowledged the bribes when it signed a plea agreement in December with the U.S. Justice Department.

Prosecutor German Juarez cited testimony from former executives of Brazilian builder Odebrecht - at the center of the graft scandal - to accuse Humala and his wife, Nadine Heredia, of taking $3 million that allegedly stems from corruption.Juarez also accused the couple of taking illegally-obtained cash from late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Unlike Humala, Lula will remain free on appeal.

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