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Interpol Issues Worldwide Notice for Arrest of Fujimori - 2003-03-26

The international police organization Interpol, has issued a worldwide notice for the arrest of Peru's former president Alberto Fujimori.

The notice against Mr. Fujimori came at the request of Peruvian authorities, who have charged the former president with murder and kidnapping related to several incidents during his presidency in the 1990s.

The Interpol notice does not serve as an international arrest warrant. Member states of the police organization follow their own national laws in deciding whether to abide by such a notice. But it is likely to add pressure on Japan to extradite Mr. Fujimori, who has been living there since November 2000.

The Japanese government refused to extradite Mr. Fujimori when murder and kidnapping charges were first filed against the former president by a Peruvian prosecutor two years ago. A Japanese foreign ministry spokesman echoed that refusal last Saturday, saying there was no reason, at the moment, to extradite Mr. Fujimori.

Peruvian authorities charge Mr. Fujimori with murder in relation to a 1991 massacre of 15 people in a low-income Lima neighborhood. The second murder charge relates to the 1992 killings of nine leftist students and a professor. Both were allegedly carried out by a paramilitary organization.

In addition, Mr. Fujimori is implicated in the kidnapping of a Peruvian intelligence agent, who reportedly leaked information about government atrocities to the press. Her mutilated body was found in 1997.

An authoritarian and once-popular politician, Mr. Fujimori was elected president in 1990, and re-elected twice. He headed a tough campaign to crack down on drugs and terrorism. His government won praise for arresting the head of the Shining Path terrorist movement in 1992. But it also received condemnation for human rights violations, and for briefly dissolving Peru's congress and suspending the constitution.

In the face of international criticism, the Peruvian government introduced legal reforms last month, including new, antiterrorist laws.

Mr. Fujimori fled Peru for Japan three years ago, amid a corruption and bribery scandal. He resigned as president, and assumed Japanese nationality, based on his family background. His behavior, along with subsequent allegations of murder and other wrongdoing, enraged many Peruvians. But in Japan, Mr. Fujimori was seen as a hero, for his role in liberating hostages from the Japanese Embassy in Peru, six years ago.