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Peru ex-leader Toledo wins reprieve in extradition from US

FILE - This booking photo released on March 18, 2019, by the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office shows former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo Manrique.
San Mateo County Sheriff's Offic
FILE - This booking photo released on March 18, 2019, by the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office shows former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo Manrique.

Former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo Manrique has been granted two more weeks to fight his extradition from the United States on corruption charges, halting extradition proceedings that had been set to start Friday.

Late Thursday, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ordered a 14-day stay on Toledo’s extradition to Peru. The stay allows the 77-year-old former leader time to ask a three-judge panel to reconsider its decision denying him a stay or petition the full court to review his appeal.

Toledo is accused of taking $20 million in bribes from Odebrecht, a giant Brazilian construction company that has admitted to U.S. authorities that it bribed officials to win contracts throughout Latin America for decades. Toledo is one of four of Peru’s ex-presidents implicated in the corruption scandal. He denies the charges.

The judge in the extradition case, Thomas Hixson, ordered Toledo to turn himself over to U.S. marshals Friday after a three-judge appeals court panel this week denied his appeal to stop his extradition. But Hixson reversed his order after Toledo’s last-ditch effort was granted.

Toledo showed up at the federal court accompanied by his wife, Eliane Karp, and an unidentified American friend. Video images captured outside the federal building by a reporter with Peruvian television station RPP showed Toledo walking down a ramp onto a sidewalk and carrying a plastic bag. His wife walked by his side as their friend tried to block the cellphone camera from recording the couple.

Why Toledo was at the court remained unclear, but Hixson reversed his order for Toledo to be taken into custody 30 minutes before the 9 a.m. deadline. Toledo lives in Menlo Park, California, about an hour drive from San Francisco. Mara Goldman, a federal public defender representing Toledo, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Toledo, who was Peru’s president from 2001 to 2006, was arrested in July 2019 at his home. He was initially held in solitary confinement at the Santa Rita Jail about 40 miles (60 kilometers) east of San Francisco but was released in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He has been under house arrest since then.

The Odebrecht corruption scandal has shaken Peru’s politics, with nearly every living former president now on trial or under investigation.

Former leader Alan García, in office from 2006 to 2011, fatally shot himself in the head in 2019 as police arrived at his home to arrest him.

Former President Ollanta Humala is standing trial on charges that he and his wife received over $3 million from Odebrecht for his presidential campaigns in 2006 and 2011. Both have denied any wrongdoing.

Ex-leader Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who left office in 2018, is under house arrest for similar charges.

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