Prosecutor requests 20 years in jail for ex-Peru president

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Prosecutors in Peru alleged Tuesday that they have gathered overwhelming evidence implicating former President Ollanta Humala in Latin America’s biggest graft scandal and will seek a 20-year sentence for the former head of state.

Prosecutor German Juarez told a judge that investigators have gathered some 1,500 files backing up their assertion that Humala and his wife received over $3 million from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht for his presidential campaigns.

“We’re talking about concrete, punishable acts,” he said.

Humala and his wife, Nadine Heredia, have been under investigation for their alleged role in the Odebrecht corruption scandal rocking Peru for several years. They were ordered behind bars as a 2017 as a preventative measure but released the next year.

The couple is disputing the charges, arguing that evidence presented has been falsified.

Odebrecht admitted in a U.S. Justice Department plea agreement to paying $800 million in bribes to high-ranking officials around the region in exchange for lucrative public works contracts. Prosecutors are accusing Humala of taking money from both Odebrecht and illegal mining operators during his 2006 and 2011 campaigns.

Humala is a former army coronel who lost the 2006 election but won five years later.

The former president and first lady are accused of trying to hide the Odebrecht funds by depositing them in small amounts that went undetected by banks. Prosecutors also accuse the pair of hiding the origin of the illegal donation by making fraudulent invoices charging for services that were never actually provided.

Prosecutors are requesting a 26-year sentence for Heredia.

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

Former President Alan Garcia shot himself in the head in April as authorities arrived at his home to arrest him in connection with the probe.