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  • Eliane Karp, the wife of Peru's former President Alejandro Toledo, shouts at the end of his extradition hearing in San Francisco federal court, California, U.S. September 12, 2019

    Eliane Karp, the wife of Peru's former President Alejandro Toledo, shouts at the end of his extradition hearing in San Francisco federal court, California, U.S. September 12, 2019 | Photo: Reuters

Published 12 September 2019

Peru's former first lady, Eliane Karp, yelled 'What the f*ck is this trial?' in a California courtroom when the judge order the continued custody of her husband, former president, Alejandro Toledo.

Former first lady of Peru, Eliane Karp, was dragged out of a San Francisco courtroom Thursday by authorities as she cursed a judge's decision to keep her husband, ex-president Alejandro Toledo, in jail pending extradition proceedings.

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Toledo, 73, has been held in a California prison since July under a judge’s orders because he’s considered a flight risk after the was arrested by United States FBI agents with a suitcase that held nearly US$45,000 in cash. Peruvian officials have been in the process of extraditing their former leader since 2018 over accusations that he took a US$20 million bribe from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht during his 2001-2006 term.

Toledo was arrested in California on July 16 and can be released only on a US$1 billion bail. The ex-head of state continues to deny any wrongdoing in the case. However, a former Odebrecht executive has said Toledo asked for a bribe and has been providing evidence to corroborate the claim against the former elected official.

U.S. Federal Magistrate Judge Thomas Hixson ruled Thursday that Toledo was too much of a flight risk to free, or put under house arrest, citing his influential connections in different countries.

"I've given a lot of thought to this," Hixson told a courtroom packed with Toledo's supporters and Peruvian media. "I'm going to maintain the detention order in place."

After the ruling was announced, Toledo's wife, Belgian-American anthropologist Eliane Karp shouted, "What the f*ck is this trial? It's a joke! It's a joke!"

U.S. Marshals dragged Karp, 65, from the courtroom as she resisted and shouted that her husband would die in jail.

Toledo is just one of the former Peruvian presidents who were caught up in the Odebrecht scandal. Alan Garcia, Ollanta Humala and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski were also indicted on taking bribes from the mega-construction company.

Last April, Garcia shot himself in his home when police came to take him into custody on Odebrecht-related charges. The former president later died from his self-inflicted gun shots.

In May, Humala and his wife were charged with money laundering and receiving illegal campaign contributions from Odebrecht. Political figure Keiko Fujimori has been in preventative detention since last November under similar charges also related to Odebrecht.

Kuczynski, who served in Toledo’s administration, resigned the presidency in March 2018 over allegations he lied to Congress about more than US$782,000 between 2004 and 2007 from Odebrecht.

Toledo has been considered a fugitive in Peru since 2017, when a Peruvian judge ordered him detained to keep him from fleeing or obstructing the probe. But Toledo was outside of the country at the time and refused to return.

It was unclear if Toledo will remain in solitary confinement, an arrangement made to separate him from the general prison population for safety reasons.

Defense attorney Graham Archer argued Toledo was being kept in inhumane conditions.

Hixson said he was not happy with the situation but that he had to ensure Toledo would not flee.

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