Fujimori returns to Peru for trial

Former president extradited from Chile to face human rights and corruption charges.

    Fujimori has been living under house arrest in Chile since he arrived in November 2005 [AFP]

    "This does not mean that I've been tried, much less convicted. ... I hope that in Peru there exists the due process to clarify the accusations against me," he told the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio on Saturday.

    Embezzlement charges

    Fujimori's administration collapsed seven years ago and prosecutors in Peru want to try him on charges of embezzling $15 million and using excessive force to combat the Maoist rebel group, the Shining Path.
    Lima has accused Fujimori of responsibility for atrocities carried out by the army's Colina Group squadron, including the massacre in 1992 by state forces of nine students at La Cantuta University, and the killing of 15 people in an area of Lima in 1991.

    But while acknowledging "gross failures" in office, Fujimori told Peru's RPP radio: "In the trials themselves, I will show that I acted in a correct manner."

    Fujimori's daughter, Keiko, a Peruvian congresswoman, called on supporters to show up at the airport in Lima to give him a warm welcome on his return.
    "I call on Fujimoristas to mobilise ... we will demonstrate that he is innocent of the charges," she said at a news conference.

    Peru has pledged a fair trial and dignified treatment for the former president during his detention.
    "Democracy will demonstrate it is morally superior to the dictatorship once the case gets under way," Jorge de Castillo, Peruvian prime minister said on Saturday.

    He insisted Fujimori will be treated with "equity and justice".

    'Gross violations'

    New York-based Human Rights Watch called the decision an unprecedented step forward for international justice.
    "This is the first time that a court has ordered the extradition of a former head of state to be tried for gross human rights violations in his home country," the organisation said in a statement.  

    Peruvians remain divided over the
    former president's legacy [AFP]

    "After years of evading justice, Fujimori will finally have to respond to the charges and evidence against him in the country he used to run like a mafia boss," Jose Miguel Vivanco, HRW's Americas director, said.

    Gisela Ortiz, whose brother was murdered by a government death squad in 1992, told the Reuters news agency: "I am happy and satisfied. After so much despair for so long, we haven't fought in vain."

    Fujimori was born to Japanese parents and, after fleeing Peru in 2000, he spent five years in Japan where he later resigned as president via a fax message.

    A former academic, he became president in 1990, defeating Mario Vargas Llosa, the renowned writer.

    Japan confirmed Fujimori's citizenship and consistently refused extradition requests from Lima before he flew unannounced to Chile in 2005 to launch another bid for Peru's presidency.

    While under house arrest in Santiago, Fujimori even made an unsuccessful attempt to be elected to Japan's parliament, a candidacy that critics in Peru saw as another bid to avoid prosecution.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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