Fri, Apr 03, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Former Peruvian leader reiterates claims of innocence

AFP , LIMA

Former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori once again claimed his innocence on Wednesday in one of his last chances to defend himself ahead of the verdict in a lengthy human rights abuse trial.

Fujimori is the first democratically elected president in Latin America to be brought to trial for alleged human rights violations.

He is accused of ordering two massacres that killed 25 people and designing a “dirty war” strategy to combat leftist insurgents including the Maoist Shining Path group and the Tupac Amaru guerrilla movement during his 1990 to 2000 presidency.

If convicted, the 70-year-old faces up to 30 years in prison.

The iron-willed ex-president, now in poor health, has been on trial since December 2007. He is already serving a six-year prison term for abuse of power in an unrelated case.

“I want to repeat what I’ve said from the start, which has been strengthened because no witness has been able to incriminate me,” Fujimori said on Wednesday. “As I said from the start, I’m innocent.”

“In today’s peaceful and stable Peru, it would be very difficult to understand the actions of that period,” Fujimori said.

The case against Fujimori focuses on the November 1991 massacre in the neighborhood of Barrios Altos, in which 15 people were killed, and the July 1992 shooting at La Cantuta University, in which 10 people were killed. A hit squad of Peruvian soldiers carried out the killings.

Fujimori is also on trial for the 1992 abductions of journalist Gustavo Gorriti and businessman Samuel Dyer.

The ex-president’s attorney, Cesar Nakazaki, said on Monday that there was a lack of proof in the charges against his client.

Fujimori is also due to testify today and the special tribunal handling the case will announce the date of its sentence shortly afterwards.

The former president fled to Tokyo in 2000 amid a deepening corruption scandal and resigned the presidency by fax from his hotel.

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