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Chile to Extradite Fujimori to Peru


Chile's supreme court has approved the extradition of former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori to face charges of human rights abuse and corruption at home. In Miami, VOA's Brian Wagner reports the ruling ends the former leader's nearly two-year legal battle in Chilean courts.

Chile's supreme court announced its ruling Friday, saying it has agreed to seven of the 13 charges filed by Peruvian prosecutors against Alberto Fujimori. The former Peruvian leader is accused of two counts of human rights violations for his role in the operation of death squads blamed for killing more than two dozen people in the early 1990s.

He also faces five counts of corruption. They include embezzling $15 million in government funds, ordering illegal wiretaps and paying bribes to members of Peru's congress.

Mr. Fujimori has denied all the charges, but his lawyer said he would respect the Chilean court's decision. The 69-year-old is under house arrest near Santiago, where he was arrested in late 2005, shortly after arriving on a flight from Japan.

In Peru, government officials said they are pleased that Chile's courts have completed their work. Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo told Peruvian radio that he hopes Peru's legal system will proceed with calm and fairness in the case.

In its ruling, Chile's supreme court ruled unanimously on the two human rights violations, which were linked to a violent campaign against Maoist guerrillas.

Henry Dietz, a Peru expert at the University of Texas at Austin, says critics of Mr. Fujimori see the ruling as an important step toward justice in the case.

"Those two [charges] were unanimous," said Dietz. "And that I think is something that the Peruvian public and certainly families who had people involved in [the attacks] or who died in [them] have been looking for for a very long time."

Still, Dietz says Mr. Fujimori's return to Peru to stand trial may revive old tensions over his government, which was in power from 1990 to 2000. He says the former leader continues to have support from lawmakers in Peru and several communities, especially for his government's efforts to stabilize the economy and crack down on Shining Path guerrillas.

"Especially outside Lima, in lower-middle class areas and the provinces, Fujimori still is remembered as a president who was as they say 'cumplido' - he said he was going to do something and then he would do it," said Dietz.

Mr. Fujimori ended his 10 years in power in 2000, when he flew to Japan and faxed his resignation to officials in Peru. Japan refused several Peruvian requests to extradite Mr. Fujimori and granted him citizenship. His parents were native Japanese who immigrated to Peru in the 1930s.

He was arrested in 2005, after arriving in Chile to prepare a return to Peru to compete in last year's presidential elections.

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