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Americas

Fujimori sentencing on rights abuses imminent

Video by Catherine VIETTE

Latest update : 2009-04-07

Former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori will receive his verdict on Tuesday following a trial for alleged human rights abuses and "dirty war" strategies against guerillas during his term. He faces a possible 30 years in prison.

AFP - Peru's former president Alberto Fujimori, whose long trial on rights abuses is to end with a verdict Tuesday, retains the strong will that cut a swath through opponents and obstacles during his decade in power.
  
That unshakeable faith in himself, coupled with a calculating nature that underpinned his previous career as a mathematics professor, helped propel him into Peru's top job in 1990 against his main rival, renowned novelist Mario Vargas Llosa.
  
Once head of state, Fujimori showed himself to be a gifted strategist capable of complicated and ruthless plays -- qualities that brought success in the main challenges faced by his government.
  
The man known nationally as "The Chinaman" because of his Asian features (in fact Japanese, from his immigrant parents), proved an unremitting foe to Shining Path and Tupac Amaru rebels active in rural areas, and to the morose economy that he turned around with neo-liberal policies.
  
It was his fight against the rebels that brought him early international recognition.
  
One of the key moments of Fujimori's presidency was during a four-month hostage ordeal at the Japanese embassy in Lima that started in December 1996.
  
Tupac Amaru guerrillas staged a spectacular invasion of the mission, seizing 400 diplomats and VIPs having a party. They released all but 72 who were held as bargaining chips for the release of imprisoned rebel comrades.
  
Commandos ended up raiding the embassy in April 1997 and killed all the insurgents. Fujimori, filmed walking amid the aftermath, deepened his reputation for fighting terrorism with a firm hand.
  
But his trial turned the light on illegal "dirty war" tactics he allegedly also pursued.
  
He is accused of permitting the actions of an army death squad that killed suspected guerrillas and sympathizers. Prosecutors argued that he was aware of the human rights violations carried out by the squad, which killed 25 people in 1991 and 1992.
  
Fujimori has denied being aware of the crimes before they were carried out.
  
In the end, his political downfall came in 2000.
  
His security chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, was exposed in a video broadcast on television apparently buying off an opposition lawmaker. The ensuing scandal forced Fujimori to announce new elections in which he would not take part.
  
In November, Fujimori fled to Japan from Brunei and sent a fax from Tokyo announcing his resignation. Congress refused to accept it and instead voted to sack him and ban him from public office for 10 years.
  
In 2005, Fujimori, who was trying to keep involved in Peruvian politics while in Japanese exile, flew to Chile on a private jet. On arrival, he was arrested and Peru demanded his extradition. Chile ended up granting it in September 2007.
  
During the trial, which started in December 2007, poor health dogged the former president, slowing proceedings. He was treated for hypertension and cancers, among other problems.
  
Fujimori, 70, is remarried after a bitter divorce. His daughter Keiko enjoys her own political career in Peru, and remains deeply loyal to him.
  

Date created : 2009-04-06

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