San Francisco, March 20 (IANS) Jailed Peruvian former President Alejandro Toledo will be released on bail after a US federal judge determined that the circumstances surrounding his incarceration have changed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a special hearing held via telephone, Judge Thomas Hixson of the US District Court for the Northern District of California ruled on Thursday that Toledo be released and immediately confined at his home in the San Francisco Bay area, reports Efe news.
He also ordered the former head of state to wear a GPS monitoring device.
Because he is 74 and suffers from high blood pressure, Toledo’s defence team argued that the former President would have a 6 per cent chance of dying if infected with the coronavirus.
Hixson noted in his ruling that the pandemic has made Toledo less of a flight risk than he was when he was denied bail at hearings in 2019 and earlier this month.
Bail was set at $1 million in cash and real estate, while Toledo’s wife, Eliane Karp, also must surrender his passport.
The judge said the defendant likely will not be released from Maguire Correctional Facility in San Mateo County for a couple of days due to the time required to gather up the $500,000 cash portion of the bail bond.
Additionally, the GPS monitoring device Toledo will wear will not be ready for installation until Friday.
In Peru, Toledo is accused of accepting up to $35 million in bribes from Odebrecht in exchange for helping that Brazilian engineering giant win business in Peru during his 2001-2006 tenure as president.
The charges against Toledo, who has been a fugitive since 2017, arise from an investigation spurred by a massive settlement that Odebrecht and its petrochemical unit, Braskem, reached in December 2016 with authorities in the US, Brazil and Switzerland.
The companies pleaded guilty and agreed to pay at least $3.5 billion to resolve charges arising out of bid-rigging schemes that began as early as 2001 and involved the payment of hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to officials in more than a dozen countries.
Toledo, who had been a visiting scholar at Stanford University as recently as 2018, according to that institution’s student-run newspaper, was arrested in July 2019 in California pursuant to Peru’s request for his extradition on corruption charges.