Fujimori, Peru's Former Leader, to Face Charges

Peru's former president, Alberto Fujimori, flies home in the custody of police, a day after the Chilean Supreme Court approved his extradition to face charges of corruption and human-rights violations related to "death squad" killings of 25 people.

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JACKI LYDEN, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Jacki Lyden.

Under tight security, exiled former President Alberto Fujimori of Peru today stepped foot on his native soil for the first time in seven years. Peruvian police delivered him from Chile where he'd been under house arrest the last two years in an affluent suburb of Santiago.

Fujimori lost his battle against extradition when the Supreme Court of Chile ruled yesterday that there was enough evidence for Peru to prosecute and try the 69-year-old former leader on human rights abuses.

NPR's Julie McCarthy is in Santiago, Chile, and has been following events.

Hello there, Julie.

JULIE McCARTHY: Hi, Jacki.

LYDEN: Julie, the speed of this is very impressive. Just 24 hours after the courtroom in Chile approved the extradition, he's back in Peru. Remind us of what he's charged with.

McCARTHY: Well, you mentioned, the most serious charges are the human rights violations. There you have the killings of some 25 people in two separate cases. A group of military intelligence officers are sort of key to this whole thing. They were labeled a death squad.

They went into a neighborhood in Lima and shot 15 people including a child in one incident. And another incident, they stormed a university dorm in the night and took out nine students and a professor, executed them and hid their bodies.

You know, a lot of Peruvians considered Fujimori's tough policies as good. It was a sign of good leadership. But he was also accused of wiretapping and bribing Congress and diverting millions in state funds.

So that will add ammunition to his case. And interestingly last Sunday, 75 percent of the people told a poll that the president should be extradited.

LYDEN: Why did Chile, which failed to put its own dictator Augusto Pinochet on trial, return Fujimori so quickly after the extradition verdict?

McCARTHY: Well, that's interesting. It was in everybody's interests to close the chapter here as quickly as possible. Peru didn't want to see Fujimori slip away. And his presence here has sort of shown a spotlight on a former head of state who was accused of wrongdoing and human rights abuses in Chile - the same country that failed to put its own dictator, Augusto Pinochet, on trial before he died. So it was in their best interest to sort of put the best foot forward. And certainly, human rights advocates think they did.

LYDEN: So what's next for Fujimori?

McCARTHY: Well, his case is obviously going to be a highly charged one. He is going to be facing trial most likely in a special federal court, possibly appealed to the Peru Supreme Court and he could face at least 20 years in prison if he's convicted as the author of these murders attributed to the death squad.

LYDEN: NPR's Julie McCarthy, speaking to us from Santiago, Chile.

Julie, thank you very much.

McCARTHY: Thank you, Jacki.

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