Peru’s Fujimori repeats election fraud claim, trusts no jail

LIMA, Peru — Peruvian presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori on Saturday said she trusts she will not be sent back to prison after a judge reviews her freedom in a money laundering case and insisted that fraud was committed by her rival in a recent election she narrowly trails.

With all the votes tallied from last Sunday’s presidential runoff, the leftist Pedro Castillo had 50.2% support against 49.8% for the conservative Fujimori. But electoral authorities said they are scrutinizing a small number of ballots amid unproven fraud claims and an official winner might not be announced for a week.

Amid the uncertainty, Peruvian prosecutor José Domingo Pérez has asked a judge to return Fujimori to prison for failing to abide by the terms of her release granted a year and a half ago. He contends she spoke to an investigation witness who is also a spokesperson for her campaign.

Fujimori was released after spending more than a year in jail as part of a probe into millions of dollars in illegal campaign contributions she allegedly received from the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht. She denies the accusations.

“I trust that the judiciary will not accept the argument for preventive detention made by prosecutor Pérez,” Fujimori said in a press conference Saturday.

On Wednesday, she said she would seek to annul 200,000 votes for Castillo, who leads the count by just over 50,000 votes. Her campaign has yet to substantiate the claims of fraud.

Castillo is a former rural schoolteacher and an outsider who many feared would upend Peru’s free-market model largely based on mineral exports. Fujimori is fighting allegations of corruption that could land her in jail alongside her father, former President Alberto Fujimori.

In March, Pérez asked for 30 years in prison for Keiko Fujimori, along with sentences for her husband and 38 other people.

“It is an absurd argument as my lawyer has explained,” said Fujimori. The judge’s decision comes on June 21.

Both sides supporters have held rallies in Lima in recent days.

If electoral authorities agree with Fujimori’s bid to annul the votes, she would not only win the presidential election but also be able to freeze her corruption trial for five years. It would also allow her to fulfill her campaign promise of freeing her father, who is imprisoned for three corruption convictions and another conviction related to the killing of 25 Peruvians during his 1990-2000 government.