Ex-presidential body guard ‘Lady Bi’ released from jail

Lady Bardales, the ex-police lieutenant and bodyguard to former President Alejandro Toledo, was released Thursday from the Santa Monica Women’s Prison in Chorrillos  after a state prosecutor dropped the charges of illegal enrichment against her.

“I thank God because he has opened the jail’s doors after almost three months,” said Bardales when she left the penitentiary accompanied by her lawyers. “I can’t say anything (else),” added Bardales, “because the proceedings are ongoing and are not over yet. They have released me under promises to appear in court.”

Dubbed “Lady Bi” by Peru’s tabloid press — an allusion to Britain’s Princess Diana — Bardales was thrust into the public spotlight in 2005 based on rumors she was having an an affair with Toledo. But the tabloid fodder soon turned into mainstream headlines when she was later accused of indirectly benefiting from the notorious kickback scheme that tainted the former president’s pet project: the construction of a paved highway leading to his impoverished childhood village in the central Andes.

Bardales, 27, was indicted and tried for illegal enrichment after she couldn’t explain to a judge’s satisfaction how she had purchased $47,000 worth of real estate, owned a 1997 red Honda Accord and generally lived a lifestyle well out of the range of her monthly police salary of $553.

An arrest order was issued for her capture Nov. 26 2007, after she failed to show up to Court to receive a verdict on two separate occasions. Bardales claimed she was sick the first time and then disappeared after missing her second court session.

Bardales was captured July 3 in her mother’s house in Peru’s northern coast city of Chiclayo, after eluding authorities for more than seven months.

State prosecutors recommended eight years in prison and a fine of 80,000 soles, or about $250,000. But charges were dropped Monday after state prosecutors determined that there is lack of evidence to support the accusations.

But Bardales has argued — and maintains — that it was her then-fiancé, David Karadi, an Israeli citizen wanted on fraud charge, who gave her $40,000 to buy an apartment and cover her expenses from 2001 to 2005, and that the land was an inheritance from her great aunt, who before dying faked the land sale to sidestep probate challenges.

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