Former Peru President Fujimori Faces Extradition
SCOTT SIMON, Host:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
SIMON: But as NPR's Julie McCarthy reports from Santiago, Chile's high court has cleared the way for his long-awaited legal reckoning.
JULIE MCCARTHY: The president of the criminal court of Chile's Supreme Court had the honor of announcing what human rights activists are calling a landmark decision. Interest in whether Fujimori would be sent packing back to Peru was so intense that when Judge Alberto Chaigneau descended the court's ornate marble staircase with this weighty news, he was swept up in a scrum.
MCCARTHY: (Spanish spoken)
MCCARTHY: Reporters throwing elbows jockeyed for a position around the portly judge who was barely audible above their barrage.
(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD SPEAKING SPANISH)
MCCARTHY: Was it complicated to agree, he was asked? No, it was long. Were you pressured to make this ruling? Pressured? No, he answered incredulously. And explained that the court was unanimous in the most divisive issue.
MCCARTHY: (Spanish spoken)
MCCARTHY: Alfredo Etcheverry represented the Peruvian government in the proceeding. He said the outcome was a victory for international penal justice.
SIMON: I believe it is the first case in which, by the way of extradition, a former chief of state is sent to stand trial at his country of origin. It's not a conviction of former President Fujimori. It merely makes it possible for him to be brought to trial in his own country by his own countrymen, and that's the important thing.
MCCARTHY: His 22-month-long stay has ended with Chile's high court finding merit in corruption charges, including the diversion of $50 million in state funds. Human Rights Watch Americas director Jose Miguel Vivanco said with its decision, Chile's court is beginning to shed its ultraconservative approach and sympathetic treatment of autocratic rulers.
SIMON: And even after Chile recovered democracy, the Supreme Court of Chile was never really very enthusiastic about protecting freedoms and promoting human rights. So the decision that has been adopted today is historical for Chile, for this Supreme Court and, obviously, is a landmark ruling for the rest of the world.
MCCARTHY: Julie McCarthy, NPR News, Santiago, Chile.
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