(Santiago) — A body of evidence implicating former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori in serious human rights crimes and corruption warrants his extradition from Chile to Peru, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today.
“Fujimori has repeatedly claimed that there is no evidence against him and that these charges are nothing more than political persecution,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas Director for Human Rights Watch. “But in the cases we examined, substantial testimony and documentation point to his direct criminal responsibility for serious human rights abuses and institutionalized corruption.”
Human Rights Watch’s 22-page report, “Probable Cause: Evidence Implicating Fujimori,” focuses specifically on information implicating Fujimori in five criminal cases currently pending in Peru, including human rights violations as well as acts of corruption that undermined Peru’s democratic institutions.
In the next few days, Peruvian authorities are expected to present a formal request for Fujimori’s extradition from Chile, where he has been in detention since his surprise arrival in that country on November 6 of this year.
Fujimori’s extradition to Peru will be decided by the Chilean Supreme Court, which in previous cases has examined the evidence supporting the criminal charges that form the basis of extradition requests. In general, the court has required that the evidence be sufficient to establish probable cause to bring charges.
In its report, Human Rights Watch found that the information implicating Fujimori in the five cases under examination is more than sufficient to justify his prosecution and trial in Peru, and therefore his extradition from Chile.
Among the cases examined in the report are the killings of 15 people in 1991 in the Lima neighborhood of Barrios Altos in 1991, and of another 10 the following year at the University of La Cantuta outside the Peruvian capital. The killings were allegedly carried out by the Colina Group, a specialized squad of military intelligence officers established to eliminate suspected terrorists. Fujimori and 57 others, including his close advisor Vladimiro Montesinos and a number of military officers, have been charged for the killings.
The report details information indicating that the Colina Group was created as part of an antiterrorism strategy approved by Fujimori, and that Fujimori knew of the existence and operations of the group before the killings but did nothing to stop it. Nor did he do anything to punish the crimes after they occurred. This information includes statements by former Colina Group members as well as military intelligence documents.
Another case involves charges that Fujimori diverted millions of dollars in state funds for his own benefit. The report describes extensive documentary material and testimony in case records indicating that Fujimori established a complex system to divert public funds every month to the National Intelligence Service (Servicio de Inteligencia Nacional, or SIN) through special accounts controlled by Fujimori’s advisor Montesinos. Every month, according to several witnesses, Fujimori had hundreds of thousands of dollars of the diverted funds personally delivered to him.
Montesinos and others have testified that he and Fujimori used the funds diverted to the SIN for a variety of illegal purposes, including purchasing media outlets and paying bribes to congressmen and members of the media. The bribes, which are well-documented, are the subject of separate criminal proceedings against Fujimori.
Human Rights Watch also discusses substantial evidence that Fujimori set up a large-scale system, which operated throughout most of his 10-year government, to illegally tap the phones of members of civil society, journalists and politicians.
Another case analyzed in the Human Rights Watch report involves charges that shortly before the collapse of his government in 2000, Fujimori had US$15 million in state funds transferred to his advisor Montesinos. Former government ministers who participated in the transfer, as well as Montesinos himself, have testified about Fujimori’s orders and subsequent efforts to cover up the transfer.
“Any reasonable court looking objectively at the evidence in this report would have to conclude that Fujimori should be extradited to Peru,” said Vivanco. “He will have his day in court in Lima, where today he will certainly enjoy due process of law to defend himself against these very serious charges.”
Fujimori was President of Peru from 1990 to 2000. In 1992, Fujimori dissolved the opposition-controlled Congress in a “self-coup” and took complete control of the government. He was elected for a second term in 1995, largely as a result of successes on economic and security issues.
Although after 1995 the Fujimori government respected the formal trappings of democracy, it steadily eroded democratic institutions. The government collapsed in 2000 amid a major corruption scandal sparked by the release of a videotape of Montesinos bribing an opposition congressman. Fujimori resigned from the presidency by fax from Japan, where he claimed Japanese citizenship and was able to avoid extradition to Peru for nearly five years.
Fujimori’s extradition from Chile to Peru is governed by a 1932 extradition agreement between the two countries, which includes various technical requirements. For example, the crimes with which Fujimori is charged must also be crimes under Chilean law, and the statute of limitations on those crimes must not have run under Chilean law.