Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Ex-Peruvian President to Remain Jailed Pending Extradition in Bribery Case

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A former Peruvian president will remain in jail pending resolution of his extradition case, a federal judge ruled Thursday, despite a psychiatrist’s warning that his mental state is deteriorating as he stays locked in solitary confinement.

“You will be morally responsible for his death,” former Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo Manrique’s wife, Eliane Karp, shouted after the judge announced his decision. She was forcibly removed from the courtroom.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Hixson had asked federal prosecutors to offer alternatives to solitary confinement for the former head of state, who is wanted in Peru on charges of taking $20 million in bribes from a Brazilian construction company.

U.S. Justice Department lawyer Elise LaPunzina said the federal government has no control over the conditions of confinement because only officials at Alameda County’s Santa Rita Jail, contracted to detain federal defendants, can make that decision.

The government maintains Toledo is “partly responsible” for his solitary confinement because he asked to be placed in protective custody, a claim Toledo’s lawyer disputes. The judge refused to entertain debate on that issue, insisting that no reasonable jail would house such a high-profile defendant with the general population.

“Regardless of who asked, I don’t care,” Hixson said. “That would be an unreasonable way to run a jail.”

LaPunzia said Toledo could be transferred to a maximum separation unit with other inmates subject to extra protection and separated from the general population, but she said only the jail can make that call.

Related: Peruvian judge orders arrest of ex-President Kuczynski in bribery probe

Dr. David Schatz, a psychiatrist, said he has noticed “a marked decline in Dr. Toledo’s mood and the onset of depression,” according to a declaration filed Wednesday.

Toledo’s public defender Graham Archer noted that Amnesty International considers solitary confinement a form of torture, and that Santa Rita Jail has been the subject of multiple class actions over alleged mistreatment of inmates.

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