Peru: Former President Alberto Fujimori Refuses to Meet with Truth Commission

NotiSur - South American Political and Economic Affairs, September 13, 2002 | Go to article overview
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Peru: Former President Alberto Fujimori Refuses to Meet with Truth Commission


Peru's Truth Commission (Comision de la Verdad y Reconciliacion, CVR) has been unsuccessful in its efforts to interview former President Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000) regarding human rights abuses committed during his ten years in office. While the former president remains out of reach of Peruvian authorities, the power and the glory once enjoyed by many close to him have vanished.

In November 2000, as a wave of corruption charges hit his entire administration, Fujimori fled to Japan, where he has lived in self-imposed exile ever since. He has managed to avoid extradition through his dual Peruvian-Japanese citizenship and the support of the Japanese government.

Fujimori is accused of human rights violations, corruption, and illicit enrichment. Among the human rights charges, he is accused of responsibility for two massacres in the 1990s in which 25 people, suspected of being leftist rebels, were killed by an army death squad (see NotiSur, 2001- 09-07).

Between 1980 and 2000, the CVR estimates that 30,000 Peruvians died from political violence. The commission has interviewed former Presidents Francisco Morales Bermudez (1975-1980), Fernando Belaunde Terry (1980-1985)--who died June 4, and Alan Garcia (1985-1990).

In early September, CVR president Salomon Lerner traveled to Japan hoping to interview Fujimori. However, Fujimori refused to receive Lerner.

"[Fujimori] has not even had the courtesy to respond to the requests directed to him," Lerner told a news conference at the Peruvian Embassy in Tokyo. He said Fujimori did not answer two letters sent to him requesting an interview, but made his refusal known through his press office.

"I will not participate in the political persecution game....It would be naive of me to take part in the circus the Truth Commission is staging with this trip to Japan," Fujimori said in a statement released by Fujiprensa Sept. 9.

Calling its efforts a circus was an affront to the commission, Lerner said. "Likewise, it is an affront to all those victims of the period of violence who have made known to the commission those injuries they have suffered," he said.

Fujimori announced in mid-July that he intends to run for president in Peru in 2006. Carlos Raffo, spokesperson for the former president, said that Fujiprensa would work toward that aim. "Everything is being directed toward mounting a defense of Alberto Fujimori with sights on his return to Peru to be here in 2006, said Raffo.

Swiss banks return Montesinos' money

Meanwhile, legal proceedings against Fujimori's former intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos continue. In July, he was sentenced to nine years in prison for usurping the leadership of the Servicio de Inteligencia Nacional (SIP). He was also ordered to pay US$3 million in reparations (see NotiSur, 2002-07-05). He faces at least 65 more criminal charges as well as 140 other complaints that are pending.

On Aug. 20, Swiss judicial authorities returned to Peru US$77.5 million from accounts in the name of Montesinos and other former Peruvian officials charged with corruption and human rights crimes. The Bern Federal Justice Office said the money had been deposited in Peru's Banco de la Nacion account at Citibank in New York.

Legal authorities in Zurich found that much of the money came from acts of corruption committed by the former spy chief. "Since 1990, Montesinos received 'commissions' on arms deliveries to Peru and had this bribe money deposited in his bank accounts in Luxembourg, the US, and Switzerland," said a Swiss justice official. "Montesinos received bribes for at least 32 transactions, each worth 18% of the purchase price."

Another person whose ill-gotten gains were returned to Peru was Gen. Nicolas de Bari Hermoza Rios, commander of the Peruvian army under Fujimori, who faces charges of misappropriating funds from the military budget.

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