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Judge rejects detention request for Peru ex-president Vizcarra

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 6, 2019 Peru’s President Martin Vizcarra signs a copy of the Lima Agreement accompanied by Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera (L) and Colombia’s President Ivan Duque at the end of the Pacific Alliance Summit, in Lima. – Former Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra reacted angrily on March 13, 2021 to the request for 18 months of preventive detention against him, requested by a prosecutor, in the framework of investigations for alleged corruption while he was governor of the southern region of Moquegua in 2014. Vizcarra, 57, rejected any attempt to evade justice and assured that he has testified before the prosecutor five times, since the case was opened. (Photo by Cris BOURONCLE / AFP)

A Peruvian judge on Thursday rejected preventative detention for ex-president Martin Vizcarra, who is being investigated for alleged corruption while he was governor of the country’s southern region of Moquegua.

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The request for 18 months of detention was declared “unfounded” by Judge Maria de los Angeles Alvarez during a virtual hearing, who added that Vizcarra was not a flight risk.

Prosecutor German Juarez had requested Vizcarra’s detention, claiming he could try to leave the country or obstruct the investigation, which began in October 2020.

Under Alvarez’s order, the former president has to pay a security deposit of $27,000, stay in Lima and not speak to the press about the case without court permission.

“I would like to thank the millions of Peruvians who believe in me and have supported me,” Vizcarra told reporters the decision.

He pledged to turn his attention to the upcoming April 11 general election, in which he is running as a legislator.

The prosecutor has said he will appeal Thursday’s decision.

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‘I have not committed any crime’
During a videoconference hearing earlier in the day, Vizcarra insisted he was innocent of allegations that he received bribes while governor of the Moquegua department from 2011 to 2014, and promised not to leave the country.

“I will not abandon the country, I am not going to seek political asylum. I am here to respond, to clarify without fear, because I have not committed any crime,” said the 57-year-old said.

Vizcarra could face a long jail term if found guilty on charges that he received bribes in exchange for public works contracts as governor.

Vizcarra was president from 2018 to November last year, when he was impeached and removed from office on charges that he was “morally incompetent.”

Earlier this year, it emerged that Vizcarra and his wife had sought and received coronavirus vaccines out of turn last year — shortly before his departure — and doctors denied his claims that they were participating in a drug trial.

It was then reported that others, too, had received vaccines out of turn due to their status and connections, including members of the sitting government. Two ministers stepped down within days.

Peruvian media said the attorney general had opened a preliminary investigation against Vizcarra and others over the vaccine queue-jumping claims.

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