Julio 12, 2007

Chile/Peru: Chile judge rules against Fujimori extradition

Wed Jul 11, 2007 10:49PM BST
By Monica Vargas
SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori should not be extradited from Chile to Peru because prosecutors have failed to prove their case against him, a Chilean judge ruled on Wednesday.

Supreme Court Judge Orlando Alvarez said Peruvian prosecutors had failed to demonstrate Fujimori was involved in human rights abuses including two massacres during Peru's battle with the Shining Path Maoist rebel group in the 1990s.
Peru said it would appeal the verdict, which came as a surprise since Chilean prosecutors had recommended extradition.
In his judgment, which listed 122 separate considerations, Alvarez said prosecutors had failed to show Fujimori was involved in corruption during his 1990-2000 rule.
The judge's ruling now passes to the Supreme Court, which has the final say on whether Fujimori is sent to Lima. In most cases, the court upholds the decision of its judges.
Fujimori's lawyers said they would immediately press for the 68-year-old former president to be released from house arrest in the Chilean capital Santiago.
However, he will probably be barred from leaving the country until the Supreme Court issues its definitive verdict.
"We've lost the battle but not the war," Peruvian Justice Minister Maria Zavala told reporters in Lima.
Fujimori has been in Chile since 2005 and has been under house arrest since last month pending a ruling.
He said in a statement the verdict proved he "never took part in those actions which my political detractors, without foundation, have accused me of taking part in."
Peru accuses Fujimori of embezzling millions of dollars and of human rights abuses. He denies all the charges against him.
Fujimori fled to Japan -- the country of his parents' birth -- after his government collapsed under the weight of a huge corruption scandal. He lived there for five years.
He recently announced he intended to run in this month's Japanese Senate elections, a move dismissed by his critics as a ploy to avoid extradition.
Wednesday's ruling was a major surprise.
"It doesn't make much sense to us given the evidence," said Daniel Wilkinson, deputy director of the Americas division of U.S.-based campaign group Human Rights Watch.
"The judge seems to have ignored basic evidence. We would expect the Supreme Court, if it looks at the evidence closely, to reverse this and authorize the extradition."
Just last month, a Chilean public prosecutor submitted a non-binding report to Alvarez in which she recommended Fujimori be extradited to face charges of involvement in 21 homicides and seven kidnappings as well as embezzlement and telephone tapping, among other crimes.
In a Chilean opinion poll conducted in Santiago in May, 90 percent of respondents said Fujimori should be extradited.
The former president won praise in Peru for his tough stance on terrorism, particularly for the way he handled a four-month siege of the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima in 1996-97. But he was also criticized as undemocratic after he shut down the Peruvian congress in 1992.
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said the ruling would not harm relations between the Andean neighbours, which have been frosty since the late 19th century when Chile defeated Peru in a war and annexed a chunk of mineral-rich Peruvian land.
(Additional reporting by Jean Luis Arce and Teresa Cespedes in Lima)

Posted by marga at Julio 12, 2007 11:22 PM | TrackBack
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