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Former Peru leader Fujimori arrested in Chile

Chile arrested Peru’s disgraced ex-President Alberto Fujimori on Monday, and Peru said it would request his extradition to try him on human rights and corruption charges.
Former Peruvian president Fujimori points to in-flight video showing flight route from Tokyo to Santiago
Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori points to an in-flight video showing the flight route from Tokyo to Santiago, Chile, on Sunday. Reuters file
/ Source: Reuters

Chile arrested Peru’s disgraced ex-President Alberto Fujimori Monday, and Peru said it would request his extradition to try him on human rights and corruption charges.

Fujimori was arrested at the Marriott Hotel in Santiago after arriving Sunday afternoon on a surprise visit from Japan, where he has lived as a fugitive since 2000.

Chile’s Foreign Relations Minister Ignacio Walker said it was not possible to expel Fujimori from Chile without going through a full extradition process.

“This is in the hands of the justice system. Peru will have to see when it activates the extradition petition. They haven’t asked for it yet,” Walker told reporters.

A Peruvian government source told Reuters that Peruvian Interior Minister Romulo Pizarro and anti-corruption prosecutor Antonio Maldonado were traveling to Chile Monday to work on Fujimori’s extradition.

Fujimori, 67, was being held in a police building in Santiago after Chilean courts processed a detention request from Peruvian authorities late Sunday.

Fled to ancestral homeland
Fujimori led Peru from 1990 to 2000 and fled to his ancestral homeland Japan when a corruption scandal toppled his government in 2000, dodging Peru’s efforts to try him on charges of corruption and political responsibility for the death squad murders of one child and 24 adults in the early 1990s.

Sebastian Brett, of Human Rights Watch in Chile, said Chile should not delay in extraditing Fujimori, once it verified the basic requirements for extradition -- such as that the charges he faces are defined as crimes in both countries, and that he would not face the death penalty in Peru.

“The evidence in some of the cases against Fujimori is extremely strong, but that’s a question for the Peruvian courts to decide, not the Chilean courts,” Brett said.

Fujimori said in October from Tokyo that he would run for president in Peru despite being barred from political activity because of the charges pending against him.

“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,” Fujimori said in a statement Sunday.

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.

‘Irresponsible, imprudent attitude’
“It’s a pretty irresponsible, imprudent attitude to come here with no warning during the week that has been the worst one we’ve had with Peru in the last 10 years,” Foreign Minister Walker said.

Fujimori’s arrival in a private airplane, which also touched down in Mexico, was carefully orchestrated. A local lawyer met him at the airport and his aides released photos of the trip and a statement to the press.

In Lima, supporters held a rally that had been planned ahead of time.

Japan had refused to extradite Fujimori, born in Peru to Japanese immigrants, because he obtained citizenship after moving there in 2000.

A source in Tokyo close to Fujimori told Reuters he was not aware of any pressure by the Japanese government on Fujimori to leave the country.