Portugal Colonial - Odebrecht graft trial starts for Peru ex-president Humala

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Odebrecht graft trial starts for Peru ex-president Humala
Odebrecht graft trial starts for Peru ex-president Humala

Odebrecht graft trial starts for Peru ex-president Humala

Ollanta Humala on Monday became the first ex-president of Peru to go on trial in a vast corruption case involving Brazilian construction group Odebrecht and bribes paid to politicians.

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Humala, 59, appeared virtually in the dock with his wife Nadine Heredia, 45, on money laundering charges for allegedly accepting $3 million in illegal contributions to the campaign that brought him to power.

Both are also accused of "concealment of real estate purchases" made with some of the money.

Prosecutors are seeking a prison term of 20 years for the former army officer who served as Peru's president from 2011 to 2016, and 26 years for his wife.

Humala is one of four former presidents implicated in a massive investigation targeting Odebrecht, which admitted in 2016 having paid at least $29 million in bribes to Peruvian officials between 2005 and 2014.

Two-term leader Alan Garcia committed suicide in 2019 when police came to his house to arrest him, while two other former presidents: Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (2016-18) and Alejandro Toledo (2001-06), are under investigation.

Kuczynski, 83, stepped down in March 2018 ahead of likely impeachment over the Odebrecht scandal, and is under house arrest.

Toledo, 75, is under arrest in the US state of California pending a decision on his requested extradition to Peru.

Humala is out on bail pending trial, while Heredia is under house arrest. Both had spent nine months in detention in 2017-18.

Three judges will hear the case against the couple and nine other defendants, including Heredia's brother and mother.

The prosecution has presented a list of 285 witnesses, which include jailed former Odebrecht president Marcelo Odebrecht and executives Luiz Mameri and Jorge Barata.

The trial is taking place via videoconference in the country with the world's highest Covid-19 death rate per capita.

Leftist Humala came to the presidency in 2011 after beating rightwing candidate Keiko Fujimori in a runoff election.

Fujimori herself spent 13 months of detention in a case linked to Odebrecht, before being freed ahead of a presidential vote last year which she lost to leftist Pedro Castillo.

Victory would have temporarily shielded her from prosecution on charges of receiving money from Odebrecht to fund failed presidential bids in 2011 and 2016. Her trial has yet to start.