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Keiko Fujimori Returns to Peru Jail Pending Laundering Trial

John Quigley

(Bloomberg) -- Opposition leader Keiko Fujimori will be returned to jail while she’s investigated for money laundering, less than three months after she’d been freed by Peru’s top court on the grounds that her constitutional rights had been violated.

In Tuesday’s ruling, the court said Fujimori should be arrested immediately and jailed preventively for 15 months, arguing it was a proportional measure to safeguard the probe. With Fujimori incarcerated into April 2021, prosecutors should have time to charge her and put her on trial, Judge Victor Zuniga said, according to video broadcast by state television.

Prosecutors told the court they have new evidence that Fujimori took cash from companies including Brazilian builder Odebrecht SA for her 2011 presidential campaign and sought to disguise it as donations from individuals. They also said there’s a serious risk that Fujimori will seek to obstruct the investigation.

The 44-year-old daughter of Peru’s disgraced autocrat Alberto Fujimori was jailed in 2018, only to have the Constitutional Court annul the sentence 13 months later. In his summing up, Zuniga said that decision isn’t binding.

The ruling is a fresh blow to her party, Popular Force, which received a drubbing in congressional elections Sunday, losing a majority it won in 2016. President Martin Vizcarra dissolved Congress four months ago following clashes with the opposition over anti-graft reforms.

Read More: ‘Fragmented’ Peru Congress Eases Path for Vizcarra’s Reforms

Minutes before the judge concluded his verdict, Fujimori walked into the court room with her American husband Mark Vito Villanella and took a seat next to her lawyer.

In a pre-recorded video posted on her Facebook page following the ruling, she said she’s a victim of “political vengeance promoted by many interests,” including the media and “a government who wants to concentrate power to avoid” scrutiny. Her husband will take her case to “foreign governments,” she said.

Fujimori hasn’t been formally charged and denies any wrongdoing. She said last month she’ll take a break from political activity to face the investigation.

Odebrecht is at the center of Peru’s biggest bribery probe after the company admitted to financing candidates and bribing officials across Latin America.

(Updates to add Fujimori’s comment in seventh paragraph)

To contact the reporter on this story: John Quigley in Lima at jquigley8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Juan Pablo Spinetto at jspinetto@bloomberg.net, Robert Jameson

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