Keiko Fujimori walked free from the women’s prison in Chorillos on 29 November following the decision (by four votes to three) of the Constitutional Tribunal that she presented no risk through perverting the course of justice, despite the charges against her. Keiko has been in jail for 13 months.
This highly controversial verdict hung on the position adopted by Carlos Ramos, one of the seven magistrates on the TC. His vote shifted the balance from three-to-four to four-to-three.
While something of a victory for the Fujimori cause, it may prove somewhat hollow in the longer term. The case against Keiko appears so strong in view of the declarations from Odebrecht officials as well as other witnesses that it seems unlikely that when the case is finally judged, she will be found innocent.
The case revolves primarily around the illegal funding of her presidential campaigns in both 2011 and 2016. She is accused of running a money laundering operation. According to testimony, she received millions of dollars, both from Odebrecht and Peruvian donors such as Dionisio Romero, head of the powerful Romero group (see here).
Whether Ramos is right in insisting that she no longer represents a threat to the course of justice remains to be seen. He argued that the dissolution of Congress had deprived Fujimori and her supporters of the ability to bring political pressure to bear.
It also remains unclear whether Keiko, assuming she does not return to jail, will have a future in the Peruvian political system. While her party, Fuerza Popular, appears to be breaking up with key members opting to join alternative lists in the upcoming legislative elections, the Fujimori brand still enjoys residual public support. The elections will put that support to the test