Peru’s Fujimori makes surprise visit to Chile
By Fiona Ortiz
SANTIAGO, Chile (Reuters) – Peru’s ex-President Alberto
Fujimori, wanted in Peru on an international arrest warrant on
human rights abuse and corruption charges, made a surprise
visit to Chile on Sunday.
In a statement received by Reuters, Fujimori said he left
the Japanese capital, Tokyo, on Sunday and flew to Santiago.
Fujimori, who led Peru from 1990 to 2000, has been a
fugitive in Japan since he fled there in November 2000, when a
corruption scandal toppled his government.
“It is my aim to temporarily remain in Chile as part of my
efforts to return to Peru and keep my promise to an important
part of the Peruvian people who have called on me to be a
candidate in the 2006 elections,” he said.
Fujimori arrived in Chile at a time of tense relations
between Chile and Peru, after Peru’s Congress passed a law last
week in an attempt to reclaim sea territory from Chile.
The head of the International Police in Chile, Maria Elena
Gomez, told reporters authorities were aware of Fujimori’s
presence in a hotel in the capital.
“There are several international arrest warrants against
Alberto Fujimori, which are not legally valid in Chile,” Gomez
said. As soon as immigration officials here knew Fujimori was
in the airport they alerted Interpol and Peruvian judicial
authorities so they could decide how to proceed, she said.
Gomez said Fujimori is free to leave Chile.
“There is no impediment against him leaving,” she said.
For Chile to arrest Fujimori, Gomez said, Peru would have
to ask for the arrest through the foreign ministry, and the
request would then go to Chile’s Supreme Court to determine
whether to issue a warrant valid here.
Peru has tried and failed to extradite Fujimori from Japan,
and planned to take a suit to the International Court in The
Hague this year to try to force Japan to send the former
president back to Peru for trial.
Fujimori faces 21 criminal charges, including corruption
and political responsibility for the death squad murders of 25
people, including a child, in the early 1990s.
Fujimori’s right-hand man, former spy chief Vladimiro
Montesinos, is in prison after spinning a web of cash for
favors to keep Fujimori in power.
Still, many Peruvians remember Fujimori for crushing
left-wing rebels, controlling hyperinflation and bringing
electricity and schools to remote Peruvian towns and villages.
(Additional reporting by Robin Emmott in Lima and Manuel
Farias in Santiago)