Sun, Jan 08, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Fujimori registers for election

UNDAUNTED Despite being held in a Chilean jail and in defiance of his ineligibility, the disgraced former Peruvian president registered his candidacy


German Kruger, left, raises the arms of Keiko Fujimori, daughter of former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, right, and vice presidential candidate Maria Luisa Cuculiza, as they wave to supporters in Lima, Peru, on Friday.


The daughter of former president Alberto Fujimori has registered his candidacy for Peru's upcoming presidential vote, defying a government ruling that he is not eligible to stand in elections until 2011.

Fujimori, 67, has been detained in Chile since early November. He arrived unannounced in Santiago from Japan, planning to launch a campaign for Peru's presidency, but was instead arrested at Lima's request.

Though his daughter, Keiko, entered his name as a candidate in the presence of dozens of supporters on Friday, there is still a chance the electoral court could reject him.

Energized Fujimori devotees chanted and waved banners reading "El Chino is coming, nothing can stop him," referring to Fujimori by his nickname on Peru's streets.

Peruvian investigators have prepared a series of corruption and human-rights charges against Fujimori stemming from his 1990-2000 presidency and are seeking his extradition from Chile.

Among the cases are the alleged murder by government agents of 25 people in Barrios Altos, a poor district of Lima, and La Cantuta University while Fujimori was president.

In Barrios Altos, the government-linked paramilitary group Colina killed 15 people in 1991, including a minor, believing them members of the Shining Path guerrilla movement. The next year Colina murdered nine students and a professor at La Cantuta.

The extradition process could take six months to a year, analysts have said.

The Peruvian government on Tuesday formally asked Chile to extradite Fujimori.

The extradition request cited 12 counts against Fujimori, 10 of which related to alleged acts of corruption with the remaining two counts alleging grave rights violations. Fujimori is accused of corrupting officials and overseeing forced abductions, homicides and torture.

He has said he is innocent and is the victim of political persecution.

Fujimori still has a loyal if limited following in Peru, where he is credited with reining in economic chaos and leftist insurgencies. Detractors however underscore their view that he trampled on democracy and human rights.

Until May, Fujimori actually was leading in voter preference polls, with 15-18 percent of the vote. Latest surveys show conservative Lourdes Flores and nationalist Ollanta Humala are neck and neck at about 21 percent.

His lawyers are expected to request that he be freed, or released into house arrest, pending a decision on the extradition request.

But Peruvian state prosecutor Antonio Maldonado has said he would strongly object to any such move, believing Fujimori would seek to flee.

Fujimori resigned as president in 2000 by fax from Japan.

Prior to arriving in Chile, Fujimori -- the Peruvian-born son of immigrants from Japan -- had taken refuge in Japan for five years. Tokyo refused Lima's requests to extradite him and he was granted Japanese nationality.

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