Human rights groups in Peru and abroad are heralding the weekend
extradition of former President Alberto Fujimori as a groundbreaking
move for Latin America and beyond.
The Supreme Court in Chile, Peru's southern neighbor, agreed on
Friday to accept the Peruvian government's request to send Mr.
Fujimori home to stand trial on charges of corruption and human
rights violations. The court approved seven of the 12 counts
originally filed by Peru in January 2006.
Fujimori arrived in Peru late Saturday afternoon and was taken to
a police complex where he will be held temporarily until his
arraignment. A special prison may be built for him, a justice
"This is huge," says John Walsh, a senior associate at the
Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights and democracy
group. "It sets a precedent for the region."
This is the first time a former head of state has been extradited
back to the country he once led to face justice.
Former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic was handed over to an
international court. But previous similar cases have been the result
of executive branch negotiations. This marks the first time a
national court has handed a leader over to a domestic court of
another nation, say human rights experts. "This is a victory against
the impunity that we have been accustomed to in Latin America. It is
a major step forward for Chile, Peru, and the region as a whole,"
says Gloria Cano, a human rights lawyer in Lima.
A Peruvian court will now try Fujimori on charges ranging from
his alleged approval of a death squad killing of 25 people to giving
his intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, a $15 million
"retirement" package after he was fired.
Fujimori has been a controversial figure in Peru since his upset
victory in the 1990 presidential election. He vanquished
hyperinflation and a leftist insurgency at the start of his 10-year
rule (1990-2000), but at the end was hounded by charges of
corruption and human rights abuses.
His government began to unravel after the 2000 presidential
election. A secretly taped video was leaked showing Mr. Montesinos
bribing an opposition congressman. Swiss authorities announced that
they had discovered bank accounts traceable to Montesinos. Peruvian
prosecutors estimate that more than $1 billion was stolen during the
Montesinos has been in prison since 2001 on an array of
convictions, including a 20-year sentence for drug trafficking.
As pressure built, Fujimori used his participation in the 2000
Asia-Pacific summit in Brunei to bail on his presidency. …