Humala and Heredia to be released

28 April 2018

On 26 April the Constitutional Tribunal voted four to three to release former president Ollanta Humala and his wife Nadine Heredia from jail. At the time of writing, it was expected that they would be released on 30 April. Both have been in custody for the last nine months, accused of asset laundering and illicit earnings. The main claim against them concerned the money they received from Odebrecht to finance their successful election campaign in 2011.

Many observers have claimed that their detention, prior to any trial, was unfair since other politicians also received large amounts of money in 2011 from Odebrecht (among them Keiko Fujimori) and have faced no charges, still less imprisonment.

Odebrecht admissions, ratified recently by the head of their South American operations, stated that US$3 million was paid to the Humala campaign at the express wish of former Brazilian president Luiz Lula da Silva. The same source confirmed that Keiko’s campaign had received US$1.2 million. Odebrecht has made clear that it was its practice to fund viable presidential candidates in the expectation of receiving preferential treatment by those eventually elected.

Humala and Heredia were jailed for 18 months in July 2017 at the request of the public prosecutor, pending judicial investigations. The following month, their lawyers presented a claim of habeas corpus. The majority on the Constitutional Tribunal argued that the two had been victims of procedural errors in the initial judgement and that 18 months preventative detention went beyond what was “strictly necessary” to ensure proper investigation of the case, violating the principle of innocence until proved otherwise. 

The judicial authorities will continue with their investigation into money received by Humala and Heredia for both the 2006 and 2011 elections. They will have to report regularly to the judicial authorities meanwhile. Apart from Keiko, former presidents Alejandro Toledo, Alan García and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski are also under investigation, as is former Lima mayor Susana Villarán.

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