Karen Rojo, the former mayor of Antofagasta, was arrested in the Netherlands on July 13, 2022. This comes nearly four months after she fled Chile, when she was sentenced to five years in prison for fraud. Antofagasta authorities state that she remains in custody and will be extradited to Chile.
Karen Rojo, the mayor of Antofagasta from 2012 to 2020, was arrested in the Netherlands, on Wednesday morning, July 13, 2022, Cristián Aguilar, public prosecutor of Antofagasta confirmed. She had been a fugitive since March, when she fled the country after she was convicted for fraud against the Chilean State and sentenced to five years in prison for using CLP$24 million in public money to hire someone for her reelection campaign.
Rojo was detained in Ter Apel, a Dutch village well known for its center for asylum seekers. The former mayor of Antofagasta had claimed there she was a political refugee. After her arrest, she was brought to Rotterdam, where a judge will rule on her extradition.
Rojo originally got away because her sentencing and conviction were not accompanied by any travel restriction orders, so, after she learned that the Supreme Court had rejected her appeal, she was free to leave the country, and she did exactly that.
The District Attorney’s Office of Antofagasta tweeted that Rojo was in custody and headed for court in Rotterdam for extradition proceedings. The DA is working alongside the Court of Appeals and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to manage the operation.
Chile’s Investigations Police (PDI) assured that the government had the ex-mayor’s return well in hand. However, Catalina Barría, national chief of International Cooperation, said in a statement that they are waiting for a green light from the Justice of Netherlands to begin the extradition process.
The millionaire fraud
Back in 2015, Karen Rojo hired a strategic communication company called “Main Comunicaciones”. The purpose of this was to prepare her for the reelection of 2016. She paid for the service with money derived from the Municipality Corporation of Social Development. The company worked for Rojo for almost a year.
The former mayor was found guilty by the Antofagasta’s Criminal Prosecution Court on January 18, 2021. After Rojo’s appeal was rejected, she left the country through the Arturo Merino Benítez international Airport on March 23, 2022.
Catalina Vergara is graduated in Social Communications from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. She has previously worked on Strategic Communications.