LIMA — Laura Bozzo, the Peruvian-born host of U.S. Spanish-lingo web Telemundo’s yakker “Laura,” has been charged with illegally receiving $3 million in state funds in a corruption scandal that brought down Peru’s previous government in late 2000.
Peru’s district Attorney Martin Retamozzo formally filed charges against Bozzo on Sept. 14, requesting a seven-year prison sentence and $4.5 million in fines.
In a noisy press conference Bozzo, who holds a doctorate degree in law and political science and is also the founder of various charitable foundations, rejected the charges.
“I have evidence showing that I never received a penny. This entire case is political and I am going to respond politically. I have lost all faith in my country’s judicial system.”
Bozzo’s saga began in August 2002, when she was arrested for alleged links to a corruption network headed by former National Security Advisor Vladimiro Montesinos, with whom she allegedly had a relationship.
She declared the set of her TV show in Lima’s Monitor Studios as her home and has been living there — and taping her show — under house arrest for 26 months.
Bozzo claims that the district attorney’s charges are a political vendetta. She said President Alejandro Toledo and First Lady Eliane Karp want her behind bars for her role in reporting on an illegitimate child fathered by Toledo 16 years ago.
During the heated election battle between Toledo and former President Alberto Fujimori in 2000, Bozzo attacked Toledo for refusing to admit that Zarai Toledo was his daughter. He accepted paternity two years ago.
Montesinos was arrested in 2001, while Fujimori is in self-exile in Japan.
Bozzo said she would contact human rights groups and international organization such as the United Nations, to plead her case.
“In Peru, you are guilty until proven innocent,” she said. “This is an abomination and I will not stand for it any longer. The real corrupt people are all free, while I have to suffer through this circus.”