A Peruvian court has issued an global warrant for the arrest of ex-President Alejandro Toledo on suspicions of taking bribes from a Brazilian construction giant at the heart of a region-wide corruption scandal. Toledo has denied wrongdoing and has not been charged or convicted of any crimes.
The former leader, whose wife Eliane Karp has Israeli citizenship, is thought to be considering fleeing to the Jewish state to avoid arrest in his homeland, officials have said. Toledo was in France last week and absent from the hearing. Benitez declined to say where Toledo was, citing a confidentiality agreement with his client.
Toledo's attorney Heriberto Benitez accused the judge of having a "vengeance" and said he would appeal against the ruling.
Toledo is a visiting professor at Stanford University, near San Francisco, where he graduated with a PhD in economics.
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Toledo has a long friendship with Israeli businessman Yosef Maiman, who prosecutors accuse of acting as a middleman for at least $10 million in alleged bribes, Reuters reports.
Jorge Barata, Odebrecht's former executive director who is cooperating with worldwide anti-corruption authorities, accused Toledo of receiving $20 million in bribes from Odebrecht for a contract to build a highway between Brazil and Peru.
Peru has an extradition treaty with the United States but does not have one with Israel.
"We're all very ashamed of what this looks like internationally; all we're asking is that he come back to explain what happened", Perez Tello said. Toledo is accused of taking $20 million in bribes to secure construction contracts from the firm.
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The order calls on Toledo to be placed under "preventative custody" for 18 months, while demanding for his "immediate location, capture and confinement".
The U.S. Justice and State Departments did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The magistrate rejected the request made by Toledo's lawyer, that the former president could have the opportunity to make periodic appearances in the court, instead of having to remain in prison while continuing the investigation.
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