Peruvian judge in Keiko Fujimori corruption case rejects call to return her to prison

Peru's presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori waves to supporters as she leaves the National Court of Tacna Avenue in Lima, Peru, June 21, 2021. REUTERS/Angela Ponce

LIMA (Reuters) - A Peruvian judge on Monday declined a prosecutor's request to return presidential election candidate Keiko Fujimori to remand prison for allegedly failing to comply with her bail conditions over charges of money laundering and corruption she faces.

Fujimori, the eldest daughter of the imprisoned former president Alberto Fujimori, is facing trial over claims she received $1.2 million from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht to fund previous presidential campaigns in 2011 and 2016.

Prosecutor José Domingo Pérez told Judge Víctor Zúñiga on Monday Fujimori breached bail restrictions by having contact with a witness in the case.

However the judge found the claim was "without foundation" since she had not been given a warning and extended Fujimori's bail.

The hearing represented a potential flashpoint at a moment of already high tension in the world's second largest copper producer.

Fujimori faced socialist Pedro Castillo in the second round of the presidential vote on June 6. Castillo has declared himself the winner after emerging with 44,058 more votes with all ballots tallied.

However, Fujimori has refused to admit defeat and has sought the disqualification of up to 200,000 votes on the grounds of fraud, a claim for which she has provided no public evidence.

The election pitted Castillo, a teacher and union leader with most support in poor rural areas, against free marketeer Fujimori, the scion of a powerful family whose backers include most of Peru's urban elite.

Foreign investors and particularly miners are watching the process closely, with concern over policies previously outlined by Castillo that include upping taxes on their operations and rewriting the constitution.

Over the weekend, thousands of supporters of both candidates took to the streets to call for democracy to prevail, and for the electoral jury weighing Fujimori´s fraud claim to work faster.

If Fujimori were to win the election, the criminal process against her would be halted until the end of her administration.

Pollster Ipsos Peru has said a statistical analysis of the ballots revealed no evidence of abnormal voting patterns favouring any one candidate.

Prosecutor Pérez is seeking 30 years and 10 months in prison for Fujimori and the dissolution of her political party, Onwards Peru, on charges that also include organized criminality and obstruction of justice.

(Reporting by Marco Aquino; writing by Aislinn Laing; editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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