Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Chile/Peru: Fujimori Arrest Renews Hope for Justice

(Santiago, November 7, 2005) ? Following the arrest today in
Santiago of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, the Chilean
authorities must ensure that extradition proceedings are carried out
fairly and expeditiously, Human Rights Watch said.

Fujimori, who governed Peru from 1990-2000 and has subsequently
lived in Japan, faces criminal charges in Peru for acts of corruption
and human rights abuses, including homicide, acts of torture and
forced disappearances. He arrived in Santiago yesterday and was
detained this morning, after Peru submitted a formal request for his

Fujimori made the trip at a time of tense relations between Peru and
Chile due to a dispute over maritime limits between the two countries.

"Apparently Fujimori thought he could exploit tensions between the
two countries to plot his return to Peru," said Jos? Miguel Vivanco,
Americas director of Human Rights Watch. "But given the record of
Chilean courts on extradition cases, it's still too early to know whether
he miscalculated."

A Chilean Supreme Court Justice must now determine whether basic
conditions have been met to grant Peru's request for Fujimori's
extradition. Chilean courts have rejected Peruvian extradition requests
in other corruption cases linked to the Fujimori regime.

"The Chilean judiciary did the right thing by ordering Fujimori's
arrest," said Vivanco. "Now it needs to determine whether his days of
evading justice are over."

Although elected democratically in 1990, Fujimori later arrogated
authoritarian powers. In April 1992, he dissolved Peru's Congress and
had a new constitution drafted. Using extortion and bribery, Fujimori
and his close advisor Vladimiro Montesinos came to control the
attorney general's office, the judiciary, the elections system and much
of the news media.

In November 2000, Fujimori's government collapsed in a corruption
scandal and Fujimori himself fled to Japan, taking advantage of his
claim to Japanese nationality.

After Fujimori's government collapsed, special prosecutors in Peru
initiated large-scale investigations of the corruption and human rights
abuses in his regime. Nearly 1,500 persons are being prosecuted for
acts of corruption allegedly committed under the Fujimori regime.
Montesinos and more than 40 members of the "Colina Group," a death
squad allegedly controlled by Fujimori and Montesinos, are currently
on trial in Lima.

Fujimori has been charged in Peru with involvement in the Colina
Group's extrajudicial execution of 15 people at a barbecue in the
Barrios Altos district of Lima in November 1991. He has also been
charged in the forced disappearance and murder of nine students and a
teacher from La Cantuta University in July 1992.

For years, prosecution of the Colina Group for these crimes was
blocked by a sweeping amnesty law passed by the Fujimori-controlled
Congress in 1995. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights
subsequently found that the law violated the American Convention on
Human Rights.

Additional human rights charges against Fujimori include numerous
homicides and forced disappearances allegedly committed in the
basement of the Army's Intelligence Service, as well as the torture of
journalist Fabian Salazar after the latter obtained film footage
implicating members of the Fujimori government in acts of corruption.

The corruption charges include Fujimori's alleged illegal transfer of
US$15 million from the national treasury to Montesinos, payments of
bribes to national congressmen in exchange for their loyalty to the
government, and involvement in diverting public funds for personal

Contrary to Fujimori's claim that he is the subject of political
persecution, Human Rights Watch said that the crimes for which he is
wanted cannot be considered "political crimes," which are exempted
under the Chile-Peru extradition treaty.

Japanese authorities have resisted requests by the Peruvian
government for Fujimori's extradition.

To view this document on the Human Rights Watch web site, please
visit: http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/11/07/peru11990.htm


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