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Montesinos Still Refuses to Eat

July 5, 2001

LIMA, Peru (AP) _ Ex-spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos maintained a hunger strike Thursday, contrary to reports that he had resumed eating when his family was allowed to prepare his food, authorities said.

Montesinos, who was captured in Venezuela on June 23 after an eight-month international manhunt, started a hunger strike a week ago after his transfer to the maximum-security navy base prison in Lima’s Port of Callao.

On Wednesday, court spokeswoman Rosa Ortega said Montesinos had resumed eating after Judge Saul Pena Farfan gave authorization for him to receive food prepared by family members.

But Gino Costa, head of the national prison board, told reporters Thursday that Montesinos ``had also rejected that possibility.″

He added that the former spymaster was in ``stable health″ and that he was under observation by doctors.

``He is not taking nourishment provided by the penitentiary administration,″ Costa said. ``He is not taking food from any other source, not from his lawyer, nor from his family.″

Montesinos faces charges ranging from narcotics trafficking and illicit arms dealing to influence peddling and directing a paramilitary death squad.

His relatives said Montesinos began the hunger strike because he feared that food supplied by authorities might be poisoned. He also was protesting his detention in a facility that he helped design for top guerrilla leaders when he was former President Alberto Fujimori’s top adviser.

``He is asking for a transfer to a civilian prison,″ Wilfredo Pedraza, a state human rights ombudsman, told The Associated Press. ``He told me personally that he would continue with the hunger strike. He expressed that he would not accept the food authorized by the judge.″

Before his arrival, the naval facility had held just six inmates, including Abimael Guzman, founder of the Maoist Shining Path insurgency, which almost brought Peru’s government to its knees in the 1980s and early 1990s.

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