Ex-Peru President Wins Hearing on Jail Conditions

(CN) – A federal judge will grant a hearing to the former Peruvian president accused of accepting bribes to determine whether the leader is being subjected to conditions akin to solitary confinement as he awaits extradition proceedings in a San Francisco Bay Area jail.

U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria said he will hold a hearing on Dec. 13 to consider evidence regarding conditions at the jail where former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo Manrique is being held as well as Toledo’s current mental health and whether he poses a significant flight risk.

Alejandro Toledo, then the president of Peru, speaks during the session “The Challenge for Latin America” at the ‘Annual Meeting 2003’ of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. (World Economic Forum / Daniel Ammann)

Toledo says he is being held in conditions tantamount to solitary confinement and his mental health is rapidly deteriorating as a result. The former president is asking to be released on bond while the U.S. government decides whether to send him back to his native Peru to stand trial on charges of accepting approximately $20 million from a Brazilian construction company. Toledo was the president of Peru from 2001 to 2005.

Toledo denies the corruption allegations, saying they are part of a politically motivated smear campaign orchestrated by opponents still active in Peru.

Authorities held Toledo in solitary confinement in an Alameda County jail before moving him to a jail in San Mateo County after he complained.

Despite the change, Toledo’s defense lawyer argues the new conditions are “strikingly similar” to solitary confinement.

“Dr. Toledo spends approximately 23 hours a day in a cell smaller than the average parking space,” Toledo’s attorney, Graham Archer, wrote in a court brief last month.

The sheriff’s deputy who oversees Toledo’s incarceration says the ex-president gets three to four hours outside the cell per day, including an hour outdoors, and access to a room with couches and a television.

He also said in a declaration that Toledo is free to interact with other inmates. Toledo’s attorney says he is only permitted to talk to one other inmate – a convicted rapist.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Hixson has previously ruled that keeping Toledo in jail while he awaits the outcome of his extradition hearings is necessary because he has money and international connections, making him a flight risk.

Toledo was arrested on July 16 by U.S. marshals after the Peruvian government requested his extradition. He previously worked as a visiting scholar at Stanford University. Chhabria was assigned the case after an appeal was filed challenging a magistrate judge’s Sept. 12 decision to keep Toledo in jail despite concerns about solitary confinement.

Eight people from three states have offered a $1 million bond to help secure Toledo’s release. The government now contends that bond package is inadequate, claiming new evidence shows Toledo’s wife has $1 million in assets.

 

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