Former spy chief defends Peru’s Fujimori at trial
Disgraced former President Alberto Fujimori should not be held responsible for human rights crimes committed during his time in office, the man who ran his feared counterinsurgency network said in court Monday.
Vladimiro Montesinos, who is serving a 20-year sentence for arms trafficking and corruption, took the witness stand in Fujimori’s trial and vigorously defended him against charges that he ordered a death squad to kill 25 suspected leftists in the 1990s, when Peru was battling the Maoist group known as the Shining Path.
“Fujimori bears no responsibility for what happened,” said a defiant Montesinos, who frequently shouted and pointed at prosecutors and Supreme Court judges.
Montesinos and Fujimori, who saw each other for the first time in eight years Monday, did not speak but appeared to exchange knowing glances of mutual trust.
Fujimori, 69, faces up to 30 years in prison. Though his political career has ended, analysts say he is positioning his daughter, Keiko, a prominent member of Congress, to run for the presidency in 2011.
If elected, she might be able to assure better treatment or a shorter prison term for Montesinos, who was convicted in 2002. She has promised to pardon her father if she becomes president.
Fujimori, who has frequently nodded off during hours of testimony since his trial started in December, was energetic and engaged as he listened to Montesinos praise him for combating insurgents.
When Fujimori’s government collapsed after 10 years in power during a bribery scandal in 2000, both men fled the country.
While in office, Fujimori defeated the guerrillas and brought order to a chaotic economy. But critics said he violated human rights to end a 20-year war in which nearly 70,000 people died or disappeared.