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US federal court greenlights extradition of former Peruvian president

·2-min read
Former Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo (pictured June 2016), who was in office from 2001 to 2006, is accused of corruption in connection with the Brazilian construction group Odebrecht (AFP/Mandel Ngan)

A California federal court on Tuesday authorized the extradition of former Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo to his home country, where he is being prosecuted in a sweeping corruption case.

"The court has heard and considered the evidence of criminality and deems it sufficient to sustain the charges of collusion and money laundering," said Judge Thomas Hixson in his ruling.

Toledo, who was in office from 2001 to 2006, is accused of corruption in connection with the Brazilian construction group Odebrecht. The 75-year-old had been living in California when he was arrested in the US state in July 2019.

Peru had sent the United States an extradition request for Toledo in May 2018. The former leader allegedly received a $20 million payment from Odebrecht to grant it the tender to build the Interoceanic Highway that links Peru with Brazil.

He is accused of influence peddling, collusion and money laundering to the detriment of the Peruvian state.

Toledo has denied the accusations.

Now that the court has greenlit the extradition, the final decision on sending Toledo -- who is under house arrest in California -- back to Peru rests with the US government.

"We welcome Judge Hixson's ruling that supports the Peruvian state's position on the extradition of Toledo so that he can be tried in our country," tweeted Peru's Justice Minister Anibal Torres, in the first reaction from a senior Peruvian official.

Odebrecht is at the heart of a sprawling scandal in which the construction giant paid hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes throughout the continent to secure huge public works contracts.

According to the US Department of Justice, Odebrecht paid a total of $788 million in a dozen different Latin American countries over more than a decade.

The company has admitted to paying $29 million in bribes in Peru between 2005 and 2014.

pr-ban/to/sw

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