- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 28, 2001

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Disgraced former President Alberto Fujimori faced the likelihood yesterday that Congress would clear the way for charges he committed crimes against humanity in connection with two state-sponsored massacres in the early 1990s.
In a special session last night, Congress planned to debate an investigative committee's recommendation that Mr. Fujimori's constitutional immunity be lifted so that prosecutors can charge him with homicide and forced disappearances committed by a paramilitary death squad.
The "constitutional accusation" was expected to be approved overwhelmingly by Congress. Mr. Fujimori's party, which once controlled the legislature, now has only three seats in the 120-member body.
Peruvian officials argue that forced disappearances and politically motivated killings against groups of people qualify as "crimes against humanity," charges that require trial under international treaties on human-rights violations.
Peruvian legal experts hope such new charges could force Japan, where Mr. Fujimori fled last fall, to extradite him. But since Japanese law bars Japan from sending Mr. Fujimori to Peru, the experts believe Japan would at least have to try him in its courts because it has signed international human rights treaties.
Mr. Fujimori, 63, was granted citizenship by Japan, his parents' homeland. At the time, corruption scandals involving his ex-intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos had brought down his 10-year government.
Mr. Fujimori says he will stay in Japan indefinitely rather than return to Peru, where he says he would face "a circus" instead of a fair trial.
Japan and Peru have no extradition treaty, and Japanese officials have said they would not force Mr. Fujimori to return to Peru. Japanese law prohibits the extradition of its citizens to stand trial for crimes committed in other countries.
The homicide charges would be the most serious against Mr. Fujimori to date. So far he faces only charges of abandonment of office and dereliction of duty, which carry a maximum two-year prison sentence. Homicide in Japan is punishable by death or life sentence.
But one Japanese lawyer who specializes in international law said it is "extremely questionable" whether Mr. Fujimori would be tried in Japan for murders committed in Peru.
Kazuo Ito said such a trial would require evidence that Mr. Fujimori had a direct role in specific murders, not just that he was aware of the existence of a death squad and took no steps to dismantle it.
Mr. Fujimori has ridiculed the accusation of his involvement with the Colina death squad in his "From Tokyo" Web site, which he launched in July to defend himself against what he calls "vulgar political persecution."
The Colina group, a shadowy death squad that Mr. Montesinos allegedly ran, gunned down 15 persons at a Lima tenement building barbecue in 1991. The group also kidnapped and executed nine students and a professor at La Cantuta University in 1992.
The attacks were believed to be strikes at collaborators of the Shining Path, a Maoist-inspired guerrilla group that ravaged Peru during the 1980s and early 1990s with car bombings, assassinations and sabotage.
The violence dropped off sharply after the capture of key rebel leaders in 1992.


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