Opposition Wants Fujimori in Probe

Associated Press -- 5 November 2000

by Rick Vecchio

LIMA, Peru - Opposition leaders are fighting to ensure that a probe into allegations that Peru's ex-spy chief laundered more than $48 million through Swiss banks includes his former ally, President Alberto Fujimori.

``This $48 million that was just discovered is only the tip of a much larger tangled mess,'' opposition leader Alejandro Toledo told a rally Saturday night in the southern Andean city of Cuzco. ``I have no doubt that soon the bank accounts of Fujimori ... will be revealed.''

Fujimori said Friday he holds no foreign accounts and that his money is kept in two Peruvian banks.

After years of staunchly defending Vladimiro Montesinos, his fugitive ex-intelligence adviser, Fujimori now appears eager to dissociate himself from him. He said he had ``no doubt'' the frozen Swiss accounts were from money laundering.

Fujimori appointed a special prosecutor last week to investigate Montesinos after Swiss authorities told Peru they had frozen five accounts on Oct. 5 linked to the shadowy ex-spy chief.

Special prosecutor Jose Carlos Ugaz said he accepted the assignment only after Fujimori assured him there would be no government interference. He said his probe would spare no one, not even the president.

In an a televised interview Sunday, Ugaz said he planned ``in the next few hours'' to present a preliminary criminal complaint to judicial authorities, which is required for a judge to order Montesinos' arrest.

The statement contradicted Fujimori's statement on Friday that an arrest order had already been issued.

Peruvian authorities say they do not know the whereabouts of Montesinos, who returned to Peru in September after a botched asylum bid in Panama.

Opposition Congresswoman Anel Townsend urged Congress on Saturday to create a special commission to investigate the finances of Fujimori and his immediate family. Her resolution also included the finances of all Cabinet members who have served the president during the last eight years and top military leaders, widely viewed as Montesinos pawns.

Montesinos had led Peru's intelligence network since Fujimori's first term in 1990. He faces mounting accusations that he ordered state-sponsored torture and death squads, directed illegal arms deals, skimmed profits from Peru's narcotics trades and extorted money in exchange for fixing trials.

His appearance seven weeks ago in a leaked video apparently bribing a newly elected opposition lawmaker to switch to Fujimori's ruling party thrust Peru into political turmoil.

The video prompted Fujimori to fire Montesinos and announce he would leave office in July - four years ahead of schedule - after a new president is chosen in special elections in April.

Fujimori won a questionable third five-year term in May amid widespread irregularities and accusations of vote rigging.