A little after 5 pm on 31 October, after a week-long hearing, Keiko Fujimori was escorted by police from the court to begin custody of up to 36 months pending her eventual trial. Judge Richard Concepción Carhuancho considered she posed a risk to due process.
The debate had centred on whether she was likely to try to flee from justice and/or whether there was a risk that she might try to interfere with the investigation. Prosecutor José Domingo Pérez had argued for the best part of six hours on the first day of sessions that she threatened both. The judge agreed there was a strong case of the latter, but he did not consider the former a likelihood.
If eventually found guilty of the charge of leading of a criminal organisation within her political party, Fuerza Popular (FP) and of accepting money she knew was ill-gotten, Keiko could face up to ten years in prison.
But the judicial process has only just begun, and it will be several months before the trial itself commences. Before that, Keiko’s defence lawyers will appeal for her to be freed. This will be decided by a higher court and eventually even in the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile Pérez will have to continue his investigation and present his full case against Keiko in the coming months. On this occasion, he only deployed some of the information at his disposal because he only had to prove that there were sufficient elements to presume wrongdoing.
Currently, Keiko is on remand until 31 October 2021, or more if she is found guilty. Her lawyers’ next move will be to seek her freedom by appealing to a higher court. It is entirely possible she may be freed and then await trial under house arrest or at least prevented from leaving Peru.
So this is only the first step in a very long process. What is clear is that the Fujimoristas have been dealt a very serious blow, one that will become ever clearer in the coming weeks.