Acquittal still doesn't settle Peru’s first family quarrel

President Humala’s brother threatens electoral challenge

Antauro Humala in court this week.
Antauro Humala in court this week.EFE

The brother of Peruvian President Ollanta Humala was acquitted Tuesday on charges that he paid off officials at a navy prison, where he is serving time for leading an uprising, in exchange for having his girlfriend visit him outside normal visiting hours.

Antauro Humala, who is serving a 19-year-sentence for a 2005 uprising he led against the government before his brother took office, has demanded a public apology from prosecutors and prison officials because "they lied."

"This entire trial against me is very unfortunate because it sadly demonstrates that the fourth estate, banked by private media, which no one elected, practically sets the agenda for this country, and sets the agenda for the third estate [the judiciary]," he told the court days at the high security Callao Navy Base where he is being held.

Prosecutors, who have said they will appeal the verdict, were asking that Humala be sentenced to six years and pay a fine of 35,000 sols, or $13,000. But the judges found there was insufficient evidence to support the claim that Humala had paid off his jailers to allow his then-girlfriend, Nora Bruce, stay with him overnight.

In 2005, six people were killed when Humala tried to lead a popular uprising over the government of Alejandro Toledo.

Family feud

As with many members of the family, Antauro is estranged from his brother, President Humala, whom he accuses of going back on his leftist pledges. Antauro has called the president in an interview "a palace watchman," and even said he may run against him in 2015.

Since Ollanta Humala came to office last year, family members have been his most severe critics and they have rarely missed an opportunity to squabble with him publicly. The father, Isaac, a lawyer and one-time communist, has accused his son of maintaining the investor-friendly policies of the previous government.

Another brother, Alexis, is being investigated for alleged conflict of interest stemming from allegations that he is a shareholder in a pharmaceutical company that has won close to $200 million in government contracts. By law, presidential relatives are prohibited from bidding for public contracts.

After first lady Nadine Heredia had declared that her brother-in-law should be punished if found guilty of wrongdoing, Isaac Humala said she was "drunk with power."

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