WASHINGTON – US District Judge Vince Chhabria ordered on Thursday the delayed release of former Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo, who is facing extradition proceedings.
The magistrate said the “special circumstances” affecting Toledo, 73, such as his solitary confinement, the lengthy extradition proceedings and a mitigated flight risk, warranted his release on bail.
However, Chhabria delayed the release order until Oct. 22 in order to give the US government time to appeal or to propose an alternative to solitary confinement.
If the government takes either of these two initiatives, the suspension of the release order would be extended for an additional week, until Oct. 29. Otherwise Toledo will be released on Oct. 22.
Toledo has been accused in Peru of receiving millions of dollars in bribes from the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.
The former president has spent the last two years as a fugitive from Peruvian justice in the US, where he was living near San Francisco in Menlo Park.
Since he was arrested three months ago, Toledo has been held in a solitary confinement because of his high political profile, since the authorities of the Santa Rita prison, Alameda County, California, in which he is held considered that this was the only way to guarantee his safety.
Toledo only leaves his cell for one hour every two days and the judge said his confinement “has already initiated a marked decline in Toledo’s mental health” and the detention is likely to “continue unabated for many months, if not years.”
Magistrate Chhabria said in his argument that “the Court does not (and cannot) question the Santa Rita Jail’s decision to place Toledo in administrative segregation, but in this context the hardship of detention is one factor among many that can justify release.”
Regarding his flight risk, Chhabria said that Toledo’s passport has been withdrawn and that, according to the established extradition process, two of his closest friends would lose their home in northern California if he decided to abscond.
He also said the risk would be further reduced if he is placed under house arrest and fitted with a GPS device.