A fugitive Peruvian Supreme Court justice accused of leading a criminal group that infiltrated and had widespread influence in the country's judicial system was captured and placed in preventive detention by Spanish authorities in Madrid Friday.
Judge Cesar Hinostroza's escaped to Spain through normal border controls causing Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra major public embarrassment. Vizcarra, who was installed as president in March, has pledged to fight public sector corruption, graft, and mismanagement following a corruption scandal that brought down his predecessor Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
"He's now with Spanish police, foreign affairs agents and Peru's police attache," Vizcarra said on local broadcaster RPP.
Hinostroza was taken to Spain's High Court, where a judge opened extradition proceedings and detained him on remand, partly due to the risk he might try to flee.
He had been barred by court orders from leaving Peru while he was investigated for influence peddling and other crimes.
Hinostroza "was fully aware of the existence of a criminal process directed against him in Peru, and, therefore, of the seriousness of the accusations," the High Court judge wrote in a document decreeing his detention, adding that the suspect's daughter lived in Spain.
"It is therefore obvious that he is in Spain not by coincidence, merely to see his daughter: he deliberately avoided Peruvian law by leaving the country and refusing to return."
Hinostroza has been at the center of a cronyism scandal since phone conversations recorded by police in a drug trafficking probe were leaked to media, allegedly revealing what prosecutors have described as a criminal network of judges who traded favors with politicians and businessmen.
Hinostroza has denied committing any crimes and could not be reached for comment on Friday.
A handful of protesters gathered outside the court in Madrid on Friday evening, holding placards and chanting "Hinostroza is corrupt", calling him a thief and saying he should go to jail.
Hinostroza's lawyer, Adrian Gonzalez Baena, left the court after the hearing saying, "Everything is OK. I won't say anything else."
According to the Spanish court document, Hinostroza has asked for international asylum, saying he faces political persecution in Peru.
Vizcarra accepted the resignation of his interior minister on Wednesday after his government confirmed Hinostroza had left the country via Ecuador on October 7.
Peru's migrations agency said Hinostroza appeared to have been helped by a government official who has since been suspended and reported to prosecutors.