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Ex-president Fujimori sentenced again, for corruption

Former President Alberto Fujimori was sentenced on Monday to 7.5 years in jail for corruption. He had already been sentenced to 25 years in prison for human rights abuses committed under his decade-long rule.


AFP - Peru's former president Alberto Fujimori was on Monday sentenced to more than seven years in prison for embezzlement, deepening a fall into disgrace already crowned by his conviction three months ago for human rights abuses.

Fujimori, 70, immediately said he would appeal the "invalid" verdict in the corruption case, which stemmed from his payment of 15 million dollars to his security chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, at the end of his 1990-2000 rule.

The 7-1/2-year prison sentence was largely symbolic, given that Fujimori is already serving a 25-year jail term for authorizing a secret army death squad to kill 25 people in 1991 and 1992.

However he was also ordered to contribute to payment of a one-million-dollar fine along with three of his ex-ministers also implicated in the embezzlement case.

Fujimori's lawyer, Cesar Nakazaki, railed against the result.

"This is a purely political verdict," he said. "The aim is very clear: Fujimori must not go free, and must die in prison."

But the head judge, Cesar San Martin, insisted "that no distinct political calculation exists -- we consider the decision taken to derive exclusively from the facts that were judged."

Under Peruvian law, sentences cannot be served consecutively, meaning that only the longest term is taken into account in multiple convictions.

In Fujimori's case, that means only the 25-year sentence will be applied, unless he wins an appeal against the death-squad conviction.

Fujimori has been sentenced to six years in a previous third conviction, in which he was found guilty of abuse of power for ordering an illegal search on the home of Montesinos's wife.

In the embezzlement matter, Fujimori acknowledged he paid 15 million dollars to Montesinos in September 2000, but did not accept that awarding the money as a bonus amounted to a crime.

The court found in favor of the prosecution's arguments, however.

Lead prosecutor Avelino Guillen last week charged that "government officials at the highest level, among them cabinet ministers, looted the state coffers."

Guillen also said the ex-president "paid for the silence" of Montesinos in the final months of his time in power because the top aide knew all about corruption and rights abuses during Fujimori's rule.

Guillen had asked the special court for an eight-year prison term for Fujimori in the latest case, as well as 661,000 dollars in damages.

Fujimori's presidency collapsed in a whirlwind of scandal after secretly recorded videotapes of Montesinos bribing politicians and businessmen with piles of cash began to air on television.

Montesinos, who fled on a private yacht just before Fujimori's downfall, is currently serving a lengthy prison term in Peru.

Fujimori resigned via fax from a Tokyo hotel room in November 2000.

The bespectacled former president, an agronomist by training, is the son of Japanese immigrants. He was arrested in Novmber 2005 while traveling in Chile, and extradited to Peru to stand trial.

Many Peruvians credit Fujimori with crushing two leftist insurgencies that plagued the country -- the Tupac Amaru guerrillas and the Maoist Shining Path rebels -- during his iron-fisted presidency.

His brutal tactics came back to haunt him though in the courtroom.

In April, a three-judge court in Lima sentenced Fujimori to 25 years prison after he was found guilty of authorizing the army death squad and ordering the kidnapping of a businessman and a journalist in 1992.

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