Spanish court rules to extradite fugitive Peruvian judge

FILE PHOTO - Peruvian judge Cesar Hinostroza talks to the media after a ceremony in Lima

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's High Court on Monday ordered that a fugitive Peruvian Supreme Court judge should be extradited home to face charges of influence peddling among other crimes, rejecting his allegation that he was a victim of political persecution.

Cesar Hinostroza has been at the center of a cronyism scandal since phone conversations recorded by police in a drug trafficking probe were leaked to the media, allegedly revealing what prosecutors have described as a criminal network of judges who traded favors with politicians and businessmen.

He has denied committing any crimes.

He was captured in Madrid last October after fleeing Peru through normal border exit points in an embarrassment to Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra's tough anti-corruption drive. He has been held in jail awaiting extradition hearings.

"The court has ruled out the infringement of the presumption of innocence of the wanted person, or that he has been the object of political persecution, as Hinostroza claimed in his appeal," the court said in a statement, explaining its decision.

The court said Peruvian prosecutors had failed to provide sufficient information about the alleged criminal organization, its operations and members, so an organized crime charge was rejected during the extradition hearing.

The Spanish government has the final say on extraditions, but it tends to follow the court's rulings.

Last week, the same court rejected a U.S. request to extradite Venezuela's former spy chief Hugo Carvajal on drug trafficking charges after determining the U.S. action was politically motivated.

(Reporting by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Alison Williams)

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