RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Keiko Fujimori escaped on Monday from returning to provisional prison for alleged money laundering amid the campaign she has waged against the results of Peru’s recent presidential elections to prevent her defeat against leftist Pedro Castillo.
Fujimori will continue on probation but was warned by Judge Víctor Zúñiga, of the Fourth Court of National Preparatory Investigation Specialized in Organized Crime, for having failed to comply with the judicial requirement of not meeting with witnesses in her case, in which she is accused of charges carrying a penalty of 30 years and 10 months in prison.
The magistrate in charge of the case dismissed the request of the anti-corruption prosecutor José Domingo Pérez to return her to prison, even though he considered that she had failed to comply with the conditions of her release.
This, considering that first a warning should be issued to the defendant and, in case of persistent non-compliance, she should be ordered to return to prison upon request of the Prosecutor’s Office.
Among the conditions of the conditional release that allowed Fujimori to leave prison in May 2020, after having spent fifteen months in pre-trial detention, was not to meet or communicate with other defendants or witnesses in the case.
However, the daughter and political heir of former president Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000) appeared publicly on several occasions during the recent electoral campaign with the lawyer and spokesman of the pro-Fujimori party Fuerza Popular Miguel Angel Torres, who is included in the case as a witness.
In her eagerness to denounce an alleged electoral fraud against her, Fujimori has also met in recent days with lawyer and leader of the Popular Christian Party (PPC) Lourdes Flores, another witness.
MORE THAN 4 YEARS OF INVESTIGATION
However, for Fujimori’s lawyer, Giuliana Loza, her client could have a relationship with both of them because they are not witnesses for allegedly making false money donations to the pro-Fujimori party, an argument that was dismissed by the judge.
“I have been scrupulously complying with each one of the requirements. Moreover, every time I have gone on a trip (during the electoral campaign), I have handed in a report with my activities,” Fujimori assured in her plea.
“I have been so scrupulous that in the interviews I have had throughout the campaign, I have excused myself from making references to the process so as not to disturb it,” she added.
For more than four years, Fujimori has been charged for alleged money laundering in the irregular financing of her electoral campaigns for the presidency in the 2011 and 2016 elections.
According to the investigation, which has culminated and is awaiting a decision to begin a trial, Fujimori and her party hid millions of dollars in donations from large companies by using fictitious accounting where multiple private donors were involved listed.
Among the money apparently hidden under this modality, known as “smurfing”, there are US$3.6 million from Credicorp, Peru’s largest financial group, and allegedly US$1 million from the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, among other large amounts.
Given her possible return to prison, Fujimori criticized the prosecutor for requesting her re-imprisonment on the same day she announced that she would request the annulment of more than 200,000 votes from Andean, poor and rural areas where Castillo has won by a wide margin, considering, without presenting evidence, that they have been subject to fraud.
Castillo is the virtual president-elect with 100% of the votes counted, having beaten Fujimori by only 44,000 votes, with 50.12% of the ballots against 49.87% for the right-wing candidate.
Fujimori’s appeals to annul electoral records have been dismissed or rejected in the first instance by the electoral juries. Still, she is now appealing to the National Jury of Elections (JNE), Peru’s highest electoral body.
“We are calm, with faith, with hope, and with our heads held high. What we are looking for is to know the truth and for an analysis of the electoral records where we have found irregularities,” said Fujimori outside the courtroom.
NO EVIDENCE OF FRAUD FOUND BY OBSERVERS
All the electoral observation missions, such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Union of Electoral Organizations (Uniore), have ruled out the possibility of fraud since they have not found serious irregularities.
This has been corroborated by an analysis of the electoral records carried out by the pollster Ipsos, which has determined that there is no evidence of “systematic fraud” in the polling stations, as suggested by Fujimori.
Despite this, this Monday, the candidate asked the population to send her proof or testimonies of how her opponents cheated “at the polling station” after several indications presented as false signatures were denied by the polling station members themselves.