Charges Filed Against Fujimori

Associated Press -- 28 February 2001

by Craig Mauro

LIMA, Peru - Peru's attorney general filed the first criminal charges against former President Alberto Fujimori on Wednesday, accusing the ousted leader of abandonment of office and dereliction of duty.

Congress paved the way for the criminal proceedings last week by approving the charges against Fujimori, who was swept from power after fleeing to Japan in November amid a burgeoning corruption scandal involving his former spy chief, Vladimiro Montesinos.

Fujimori sent his resignation from Tokyo by fax to Peru's Congress, which rejected it and voted him out instead, declaring him morally unfit to remain in office.

Fujimori has not returned from Japan, where his parents were born. The congressional action last week bans him from holding office in Peru for 10 years.

Under Peru's constitution, the president must obtain permission from Congress to leave the country and return within a specified time.

In a letter to Japan's Kyodo News service earlier this week, Fujimori said the congressional charges were unconstitutional and lacked legal grounds. He argued that he did not abandon his job but entrusted his duties to the vice president as dictated by the constitution.

Fujimori's remaining supporters in Congress say the charges against him are politically motivated.

The charges carry a two-year prison sentence. The Supreme Court has assigned a judge to investigate the accusations, Supreme Court Justice Felipe Almenara said.

Peru and Japan have no extradition treaty. Japan has recognized Fujimori as a citizen and has shown no sign it plans to make him leave.

Montesinos, once Fujimori's closest adviser and intelligence chief, faces criminal charges involving accusations including corruption, money laundering and smuggling arms to Colombian guerrillas. He is a fugitive.

Fujimori has denied any illicit involvement with Montesinos during his 10 years in power.

In another development, a judge ordered the detention of television station owner Genaro Delgado Parker after his appearance in a covertly recorded video with Montesinos.

The arrest order, issued over the weekend, is the latest court action against several television station owners or executives in recent days who allegedly were paid off, or otherwise influenced, by Montesinos to provide favorable coverage to Fujimori.

Delgado Parker was reportedly in Miami and was not immediately available for comment.