Peru: Government Rejects Proposal That Former President Alberto Fujimori Be Tried in Japan

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The Peruvian government is insisting that former President Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000) be returned from Japan and tried in Peru. Peruvian officials will continue their efforts to return Fujimori, in self-imposed exile since November 2000, and try him for crimes against humanity. Meanwhile, President Alejandro Toledo has appointed an anti- corruption czar to promote transparency and ethical behavior in society.

On Oct. 9, the Corte Suprema de Justicia (CSJ) confirmed that it had sent a request to Interpol for the capture of Fujimori, wanted for human rights violations, corruption, and illicit enrichment.

Judge Jose Luis Lecaros said that the local Interpol office must transmit the order to its 174 affiliates around the world. The CSJ acted after attorney general Nelly Calderon accepted the decision by Congress to accuse Fujimori of responsibility for the deaths of 25 people at the hands of a military death squad (see NotiSur, 2001-09-07).

Fujimori left the country at the height of a corruption scandal involving his security chief Vladimiro Montesinos and faxed his resignation from Japan (see NotiSur, 2000-12-08). Congress rejected the resignation, instead voting to fire him for being "morally unfit."

The former president has denied the charges against him. He has said he will remain in Japan because he could not receive a fair trial in Peru. Toledo's government, which took office in July, has not yet formally requested extradition, but it insists that Fujimori would receive a fair trial.

Offer by Japan called "without legal foundation"

Japan has steadfastly maintained that it would not grant a request for extradition because of Fujimori's dual Japanese- Peruvian citizenship.

President Toledo, in Shanghai, China, for an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum on Oct. 20-21, met with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and asked him to hand over Fujimori, Japanese officials said. But the Peruvian press reported that Koizumi said Fujimori could instead be tried by Japanese courts because he is a Japanese citizen.

"Japan's willingness to try Fujimori in Japan, is, I believe, an improvement from its original position where Japan practically gave Fujimori total immunity...but as Peru's government we have to insist that he be tried in Peru," Prime Minister Roberto Danino told Radio Programas del Peru (RPP). "Any crimes he committed were carried out in Peru, under Peruvian law, and as Peru's president."

Peruvian Justice Minister Fernando Olivera also opposed the suggestion that Fujimori be tried in Japan. At a press conference, Olivera said trying Fujimori in Japan on charges brought against him by the Peruvian government "has absolutely no legal foundation."

Olivera said that Japan's position gives Fujimori an "unacceptable impunity." He said the Peruvian government would continue supporting legal efforts to extradite Fujimori. Olivera also said that, at the APEC meeting, Toledo and Koizumi separated the issue of Fujimori from their talks on economic and international cooperation.

Later, the Japanese Foreign Ministry denied that Koizumi had suggested trying Fujimori in Japan. The Peruvian government said Fujimori had "pulled political strings" in Japan to get the ministry to make that statement, and it insisted that the offer was made.

Fujimori accused of trying to bribe Montesinos

On Oct. 18, a legislative panel recommended charging Fujimori with making a US$15 million payoff to Montesinos. Prosecutors accused Fujimori of signing a secret decree to divert defense funds to Montesinos as an incentive for him to leave the government without a fight.

The congressional permanent commission agreed to ask the full legislature to charge the former president with embezzlement, falsification, and conspiracy. …