Peru Ex-President Humala to Stay in Jail After Losing Appeal

(Bloomberg) -- Former President Ollanta Humala and his wife Nadine Heredia will remain in jail while they are investigated for campaign donations involving Brazilian construction companies and the Venezuelan government, a Peruvian court said Friday.

The couple, who were given pre-trial detention three weeks ago, had asked the appeal court judges to change the order for one requiring them not to leave the country and to appear regularly before the authorities.

The couple turned themselves in on July 13 after Judge Richard Concepcion ordered 18 months of preventive detention for suspected money laundering. Concepcion had said there was sufficient evidence of wrongdoing and grounds to believe Humala and his wife would seek to obstruct the ongoing investigation by the Attorney General’s office.

During the appeal hearing on July 31, Humala said prosecutors had presented their case using uncorroborated facts and acted under pressure from politicians and the media. Addressing the judges via a video link from jail and wearing a navy suit and tie, Humala said his incarceration was an excessive measure given he and his wife had been complying “rigorously” with earlier court-imposed restrictions on their movements.

Prosecutors allege the couple, who founded Peru’s Nationalist Party in 2005, enriched themselves with cash donated to Humala’s two presidential election campaigns. Judge Concepcion said in last month’s verdict there was a “high level of probability” that Humala and Heredia laundered money that had illicit origins in Venezuela and Brazil, including payments from builders Odebrecht SA and Construtora OAS. The couple deny any wrongdoing.

The couple will take their appeal to the Supreme Court and if necessary, a supranational court, Wilfredo Pedraza, the former first lady’s lawyer, told reporters in Lima.

Keiko Fujimori, who Humala defeated to win the presidency in 2011, on Thursday denied receiving campaign donations from Odebrecht. Her comments followed a report in Brazil’s O Globo newspaper alleging the company also financed Fujimori, citing a testimony by it’s jailed former head, Marcelo Odebrecht.