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Court Drops Charges Against Garcia

January 19, 2001

LIMA, Peru (AP) _ Peru’s Supreme Court has lifted arrest warrants for former president Alan Garcia, clearing the way for his return to Peru and a fresh bid for the presidency, according to news reports Thursday.

The court ruled that the statute of limitations on corruption charges against Garcia had expired, thus nullifying the charges and warrants, radio and television stations said.

Despite the outstanding arrest warrants at the time, leaders of Garcia’s Aprista party announced on Wednesday that the former president planned to return to Peru on Jan. 27 for the first time in nine years.

Garcia’s 1985-90 populist administration was marred by guerrilla violence, corruption and hyperinflation.

He was forced to flee the country in 1992 to avoid arrest by soldiers during former President Alberto Fujimori’s ``self-coup,″ in which he suspended the Constitution, closed Congress and the courts and temporarily seized dictatorial power. Fujimori was ousted last year amid a corruption scandal.

Polls for April’s presidential elections show Garcia in a fourth place, trailing far behind front runner Alejandro Toledo, a U.S.-trained economist and Fujimori’s chief political opponent.

But Garcia’s surprise candidacy _ registered just minutes before a midnight deadline last week _ promises to liven up what was expected to be a contest among several middle-of-the-road candidates.

While many Peruvians deeply resent Garcia’s economic mismanagement and the rampant corruption during his government, analysts say his fiery speeches and campaigning prowess could still gain him significant support.

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