Ex-Peruvian President Ordered Released Unless Solitary Ends

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

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A former head of state facing extradition to Peru on corruption charges will be released from jail on house arrest by the end of October unless the U.S. government stops holding him in solitary confinement, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

Finding that ex-Peru president Alejandro Toledo Manrique’s extradition case could take years to resolve, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria deemed it unacceptable to keep detaining him for that long in conditions human rights activists have likened to torture.

“The combination of the anticipated length of the proceedings and the conditions of Toledo’s confinement creates a special circumstance that qualifies Toledo for release,” Chhabria wrote in a 4-page order.

However, Chhabria stayed his ruling until Oct. 22 to give U.S. prosecutors a chance to appeal his ruling or file a motion for reconsideration if they find an alternative to solitary confinement. If an appeal or reconsideration motion are filed by Oct. 22, Chhabria said he would extend the stay through Oct. 29.

“Absent the filing of a motion with the court of appeals or with this court seeking relief from this ruling, Toledo must be released on Oct. 22, subject to the restrictions recommended by the pretrial services office,” Chhabria wrote.

Despite arguments that Toledo poses a flight risk, Chhabria found placing restrictions on his release will mitigate that risk. The judge cited the pretrial services office’s recommendation that Toledo be placed on house arrest with a GPS-tracking ankle monitor.

Eight people who are close to Toledo also posted $1 million bond to secure his release. Chhabria noted in his ruling that if Toledo were to flee, two of his closest friends would lose their home.

“Therefore, on this record, Toledo has carried his burden of proving that he is not a flight risk under this package of restrictions,” Chhabria wrote.

Toledo has been detained in a solitary cell at Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County since he was arrested on July 16. Prosecutors told Chhabira during a hearing Wednesday that they would look into transferring the 75-year-old to a facility in San Mateo County or Los Angeles, where he would not be held in solitary confinement.

The ex-president is wanted in Peru on charges of taking $20 million in bribes from a Brazilian construction company. Toledo, who led Peru’s government from 2001 to 2006, claims the charges are politically motivated and based on coerced witness statements.

Toledo’s public defender, Graham Archer, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California did not immediately return emails seeking comment Thursday.

 

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