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Peru Congress charges Fujimori

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February 24, 2001 

  

LIMA, Peru (AP) Peru's Congress voted early Friday to charge disgraced former President Alberto Fujimori with abandonment of office and to bar him from holding any public post for 10 years.


After more than four hours of debate, lawmakers voted 37-24, with four abstentions, to approve the charges against Fujimori, who fled to Japan in November as a corruption scandal battered his former spy chief, Vladimiro Montesinos.


The charges for failing to return to Peru mean Fujimori can't hold public office in Peru till he's 72 years old. Under the Constitution, the president must obtain permission from Congress to leave the country and return within a specified period of time.


Congress had previously declared him morally unfit for office.


The Attorney General's office must now decide it will file criminal charges against the former leader with the Supreme Court.


Peru and Japan have no extradition treaty. The son of Japanese immigrants, Fujimori is now recognized by Japan as one of its citizens and its government has shown no sign it plans to force him to return.


Members of Fujimori's party said Friday's charges were part of a political vendetta.


So far, authorities have been hard pressed to present any hard evidence directly linking Fujimori to acts of corruption.


Fujimori, who says he intends to stay in Japan indefinitely, has denied any illicit involvement with Montesinos during his 10 years in power.


Prosecutors and congressional investigators are probing Fujimori for a myriad of accusations, including embezzlement in connection with missing money paid by the United Nations to rent a Peruvian helicopter.


He also faces possible obstruction of justice charges for allegedly ordering an illegal police raid on Montesinos' apartment, seizing some 700 videos from Montesinos' personal collection. The videos are thought to contain secretly filmed footage compromising top Peruvian leaders.



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