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Israel says fugitive former Peru president will not be allowed to enter

Newspapers with the portrait of former Peruvian President (2001-2006) Alejandro Toledo on their front pages, are displayed for sale in Lima on February 10, 2017
Peruvian authorities feared Alejandro Toledo will flee from the US to Israel with his wife, an Israeli citizen

Israel announced on Sunday that it will bar fugitive former Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo, wanted by authorities on suspicion of accepting $20 million in bribes, from entering the country amid reports that he was fleeing to Israel with his wife, who is an Israeli citizen.

US authorities had earlier told Peru that they would not prevent Toledo from boarding a flight from California scheduled to land in Tel Aviv on Sunday, for which Toledo had purchased tickets.

"Former Peru President Toledo will be allowed into Israel only when his matters are settled in Peru," an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Peruvian Interior Minister Carlos Basombrío said he had information indicating that Toledo had not boarded the flight despite buying the tickets.

Peruvian authorities offered a $30,000 reward for information to help them capture Toledo, who rose from poverty to lead the fight against a graft-stained government in the 1990s, then served as Peru's first indigenous president from 2001 to 2006.

Toledo is a visiting professor at Stanford University, near San Francisco, where he graduated with a PhD in economics. His wife, Eliane Karp, has Israeli citizenship.

A judge ordered an international arrest warrant for Toledo Thursday, granting prosecutors' request to jail him for 18 months pending a full investigation.

The former president is accused of taking bribes from scandal-plagued Brazilian construction company Odebrecht to give the firm a juicy contract for a highway linking Brazil and Peru.

He denies the accusations, branding them political persecution.

But he has struggled to explain where the money came from.

He originally said it was a loan from his mother-in-law that came from compensation she received as a Holocaust survivor.

But his former vice president, David Waisman -- himself a prominent member of Peru's Jewish community -- said that was untrue.

"Lies just flow out of him," he said, adding a message for his former boss: "If it turns out you're guilty and you go to jail, then rot in there."

(Staff with AFP)


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