Keiko Fujimori in court
28 October 2018
Peru remains gripped by the court hearing that will decide whether Keiko Fujimori is jailed for 36 months while her case proceeds through the judiciary. Alongside ten other defendants, she faces Judge Richard Concepción Carhuancho. He has to decide whether they pose a risk of fleeing justice or whether they would be likely to obstruct the course of justice; these are the only two considerations that will define whether they are jailed or not.
Concepcion Carhuancho has become well-known in the last couple of years for favouring preventative jail sentences. It was he who ordered the detention of ex-president Ollanta Humala and his wife Nadine Heredia, as well as the directors of construction company Graña y Montero; all were later freed as the measure was considered excessive.
Prosecutor José Domingo Pérez argued uninterruptedly for six hours that there is a risk of Keiko trying to flee: she has no property in Peru and has family abroad. He also brought up recurrent intimidation of witnesses and the political campaign waged against himself personally in Congress.
As evidence he showed the telephone conversations of a group known as La Botica (the pharmacy shop). In these, Keiko Fujimori and her closest advisors, who also face the threat of jail time (Ana Hertz de Vega and Pier Figari) were heard giving instructions to the members of Congress on how to act, whom to attack, and when. The instructions were so precise that they even included when they should stand up and sit, and even when and how to clap.
This is one of the most significant pieces of evidence: much information was provided by witnesses. Particularly telling was the testimony of Fujimorista Congressman Rolando Reátegui who decided to break ranks and tell all.
The hearing, which began on 24 October and carries on, is now considering the case of Vicente Silva Checa, a shadowy figure from the time of Montesinos. He is thought to be the eminence grise within the alleged criminal organisation that took root in Fuerza Popular.
Silva Checa was a prominent operator within the circle of Vladimiro Montesinos in the 1990s. He served time in jail during the 2000s, but the case against him was thrown out because of time limits.
Pérez is being extremely thorough in his approach, and some analysts even believe that he is giving away too much of the investigation in what is just a preliminary hearing over preventative detention. It is possible that he wants to ensure that as much information as possible is made known just in case his investigation is subsequently halted for whatever reason.
The hearing, which is being televised live, has stopped the country in its tracks. It continues on Monday. For the latest, see here.