Fujimori unaffected by Interpol arrest notice

Saturday, March 29, 2003

TOKYO -- Peru's disgraced former president Alberto Fujimori shrugged off Interpol's notice for his arrest on murder and kidnapping charges and pledged to supporters back home Friday that he will return some day.

Fujimori made his comments, the first since Interpol put him on its most-wanted list two days ago, in an interview with The Associated Press at its Tokyo bureau.

The former president, who has lived in exile in Japan since fleeing Peru in November 2000, also delivered a video that will be shown to supporters in Peru on Saturday.

An adviser said the video broadcast could restart Fujimori's political career.

Fujimori, dressed in a dapper gray suit and appearing relaxed as he sipped on water and smiled often, said his life in exile has not changed since Interpol demanded his extradition to Peru, where he was president from 1990 to 2000.

Fujimori -- who as president gave the army sweeping powers in a successful campaign against Maoist guerrillas -- faces murder charges for allegedly authorizing massacres of suspected rebel sympathizers in the 1990s.

This month, Peru's lawmakers approved embezzlement and illegal enrichment charges against Fujimori, accusing him of secretly shifting Defense Ministry funds to pay for intelligence activities. They also accused him of illegally authorizing millions of dollars in government purchases.

Fujimori also faces charges he made an illegal $15 million severance payment to his former spy chief and he bribed opposition congressmen to join his party.

"All these are accusations against me," he said, referring to the allegations of illicit accounts, murder and misdirected funds. "Where are the billions (of dollars)?"

Fujimori, 64, who fled a corruption scandal in Peru, has used his "From Tokyo" Web site to claim he is the target of political persecution and to argue that the accusations lack proof and credible witnesses.

Fujimori has become somewhat of a celebrity in Japan, where some are enamored with a man of Japanese ancestry reaching political heights abroad.

Japan has refused to extradite Fujimori to Peru or act on the Interpol request because he has Japanese citizenship and Tokyo has no extradition treaty with Peru. Fujimori was born in Peru to Japanese immigrants and established his citizenship after moving here.

"My intention to return remains strong," Fujimori told the AP, but added, "I don't know when."

When asked about any changes in his life after this week's Interpol "red notice," which does not carry the force of an arrest warrant, he smiled and said, "There's been no change."

Fujimori also proudly showed his video, describing it as "a call to my supporters" and a pledge to return and resume his political career.

"Did they find bars of gold? No. Did they find accounts, companies, stocks in any part of the world? No," he says in the video, which shows a head shot of a shouting Fujimori.

"Did I divert and improperly invest funds instead of constructing highways, schools and medical centers? No. Am I guilty of human rights violations and genocide? No."

Carlos Raffo, a former Fujimori press adviser, told the AP in Lima on Thursday that Saturday's video showing will be the start of a campaign "with a view to the 2006 elections."

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