Peru's Fujimori in political pause ahead of new court hearing

Lima (AFP) –


Peruvian opposition leader Keiko Fujimori, released last month after more than a year in pre-trial custody, announced Wednesday she would take a break from politics, before a new detention hearing in her corruption case.

Fujimori, 44, is accused of accepting $1.2 million in illicit funding for her 2011 election campaign from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.

The hearing to decide on a potential new 36-month pretrial detention term will be held on December 26, the day after Christmas.

"I am going to pause my political activities because my priority is and will always be my family," Fujimori said in a televised statement.

"We will face this process as a whole family."

After her release in November, she theoretically had time to campaign for presidential elections set for July 2021.

Once Peru's most popular politician, she rejected accusations that she was a flight risk and posed a danger of obstruction to prosecutor Jose Domingo Perez's investigations.

The 44-year-old eldest daughter of disgraced former president Alberto Fujimori was taken into pretrial detention in October 2018 for allegedly interfering with the anti-corruption investigation.

Her release last month by the Constitutional Court came in a ruling related only to her detention and which has no bearing on the corruption case against her.

On Wednesday Fujimori said there is "no flight risk because the judges determined it" and the Constitutional Court that released her ruled out the presumed dangers of obstruction.

"It's the most perverse gift that I have ever received in my life," the leader of the right-wing Popular Force party said of the new pre-trial detention hearing which awaits her.

Fujimori added she was worried for her two daughters and keeping them in mind would give her strength to face the judicial process.

"We are going to show this is persecution, and we will also show our truth," she said.

Perez believes there is new information against Fujimori, which he believes would increase the risk of flight and obstruction of justice.

The prosecutor is seeking to file multiple new accusations against her, including money laundering and obstruction of justice.

Odebrecht has admitted paying at least $29 million to Peruvian officials since 2004, and bribing four former Peruvian presidents.

But the Odebrecht scandal stretches far beyond Peru.

Latin America's largest construction firm has admitted to paying hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to win juicy contracts in 12 countries.