Wed, Nov 21, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Asylum-seeking ex-president not persecuted: Peru

‘RULE OF LAW’:Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra has asked Uruguay to consider Lima’s position on an asylum request by Alan Garcia, who is being investigated for graft

Bloomberg

People protest against former Peruvian president Alan Garcia outside the Uruguayan ambassador’s residence in Lima on Monday.

Photo: EPA

Peru on Monday said it would respect Uruguay’s decision whether to grant asylum to former Peruvian president Alan Garcia, but denied that he is a victim of a political persecution, in the latest twist of a bribery case that has roiled Latin American governments.

Garcia on Saturday requested political asylum at the Uruguayan ambassador’s residence in Lima, just hours after a court barred him from leaving the country while he is being investigated for corruption.

Garcia, who was president from 1985 to 1990 and 2006 to 2011, is the latest Peruvian leader ensnared in the bribery scandal centered on Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, which admitted to paying kickbacks to win contracts across Latin America.

Prosecutors have been investigating Garcia and other former officials in connection with a rail contract awarded to the company during his second government.

He has denied any wrongdoing.

Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra on Monday said that he spoke to Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez and asked him to consider his government’s view on the asylum request.

That position was to be laid out in a document to be presented to the Uruguayan government no later than yesterday, he said.

“Political persecution doesn’t exist in Peru,” Vizcarra said. “There’s full rule of law.”

Garcia was handed an 18-month travel ban after prosecutors said that they received information from Odebrecht about a US$100,000 payment to him for a speech he gave at a conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2012.

Garcia said that he has given dozens of speeches since leaving office and denies receiving any payments from the firm.

Following the court’s decision on Saturday, Garcia said that he accepted the travel ban and added on Twitter that he did not consider being in the country for 18 months a punishment.

A few hours later he entered the ambassador’s residence to make his asylum claim.

Uruguay would evaluate the situation and “adopt the sovereign decision it determines appropriate,” a statement on the Web site of the Uruguayan presidency said.

Vizcarra urged Uruguay to make good on a pledge made at a summit in Lima in April, when governments from across the hemisphere promised to combat corruption.

“Corruption doesn’t respect borders and therefore heads of state need to work together to fight it,” he said.

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