Fujimori faces questioning
Ex-President of Peru Alberto Fujimori today faces the first in a series of interrogations and trails in which he has been accused of gross human rights violations during his presidency, as well as massive corruption. The 69 year old of Japanese descent ruled from 1990 to 2000.
Since his extradition from Chile to Peru on 22 September this year the thrice-elected Fujimori has languished in a Lima prison, where he is learning to paint according to Peruvian press. Today's trial was originally scheduled for last week but his defence team requested an adjournment until 12 October.
Today's questioning revolves around accusations that Fujimori ordered the illegal destruction of a house belonging to the ex-wife of Vladimiro Montesinos, with the aim of hiding evidence of corruption. Taken from the house on the night in question were a large number of bags, said to contain evidence of acts of corruption during Fujimori's tenure recorded on video and tape by Montesinos. The bags were taken to the presidential palace, then displayed six days later for the press, minus any incriminating evidence, which was allegedly taken to Japan.
Montesinos was the head of the secret police and advisor to Fujimori during his presidency. The two men's fates have been inextricably linked. In 2000 a video was broadcast in Peru showing Montesinos bribing a congressman to defect to Fujimori's party. A month after the video was shown Fujimori left Peru, ostensibly to attend a conference. He then travelled on to Japan where he resigned his position by fax. Montesinos has been imprisoned in a naval base on corruption charges since 2001.
On 26 November Fujimori will face the most serious charges, those of his responsibility for the deaths of civilians in Peru during the conflict with the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), a Maoist guerrilla group that terrorised the country during the 1980's. Fujimori gained popularity for his effective dealing with the group, a popularity that endures today within certain sectors of Peruvian society. His reputation has suffered more recently, with 75.4 per cent of Peruvians believing that Fujimori and Montesinos were involved in corruption.