- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 20, 2006

LIMA, Peru — Peru’s imprisoned former spy chief is back on the political scene, with accusations that left-wing presidential candidate Ollanta Humala helped him escape from the country six years ago by staging a fake military rebellion.

Vladimiro Montesinos, head of intelligence for former President Alberto Fujimori, made the statement Friday in court during one of his many corruption trials. An audio of the statement was replayed on television and radio newscasts.

Mr. Humala, a retired army lieutenant colonel, advocates left-wing populism similar to that of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Bolivian President Evo Morales.

He began his political career when he led a short-lived military uprising on Oct. 29, 2000, against Mr. Fujimori, whose government collapsed a month later amid corruption scandals centered on the intelligence chief.

Mr. Humala has repeatedly denied suggestions his bloodless rebellion was a diversion to cover Mr. Montesinos’ simultaneous escape from Peru on a private yacht. Mr. Montesinos, who controlled the military during much of his decade as Mr. Fujimori’s spy chief, was captured eight months later in Venezuela.

Mr. Montesinos on Friday called Mr. Humala’s uprising a “farce, an operation of deception and manipulation” designed to “facilitate my exit from the country on the sailboat Karisma. That is the reality of those events.”

Mr. Humala trails former President Alan Garcia in the polls ahead of a June 4 runoff vote.

He angrily accused Mr. Montesinos of making a deal with Mr. Garcia’s center-left Aprista party to undermine his candidacy. The candidates are scheduled to face off in a nationally televised debate tonight.

“I want to declare my indignation at the statements [by Mr. Montesinos],” Mr. Humala told reporters.

“Who benefits from the declarations that stain the honor of Ollanta Humala? Evidently they benefit Alan Garcia,” Mr. Humala said. “I ask Mr. Alan Garcia, what’s the deal?”

Jorge del Castillo, the secretary-general of Mr. Garcia’s party, called Mr. Humala’s suggestion “nonsense.”

Already serving a 15-year sentence on various corruption convictions, Mr. Montesinos still faces dozens of charges ranging from extortion to arms smuggling to directing a paramilitary death squad.

Mr. Humala’s uprising began when he and more than 50 followers took over a mine in the southern Peruvian town of Toquepala, commandeered food and fuel, and disappeared into the mountains with an army general as a hostage.

That same day, Mr. Montesinos, who had been in hiding for weeks, boarded a yacht in Lima’s port of Callao and sailed to Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands.

Before Mr. Montesinos left, investigators have said, he made several calls by satellite telephone to the Locumba army base, where Mr. Humala was stationed, raising suspicions that the spy chief orchestrated the mutiny.

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