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Fujimori Complaint Under Inquiry

February 13, 2001

LIMA, Peru (AP) _ Peru’s Congress has agreed to investigate a prosecutor’s criminal complaint against former President Alberto Fujimori for alleged extortion, embezzlement and illicit enrichment.

Ana Cecilia Magallanes, widely perceived as a tough and independent prosecutor, is the first criminal justice official to file a constitutional charge against Fujimori. There have been multiple others from opposition lawmakers, who Fujimori’s supporters claim are motivated by political vengeance.

Because Fujimori was president, he has immunity from criminal prosecution. For any charge to be leveled against him, congress has to investigate and then vote to lift the immunity so the prosecution can proceed.

The decision by the legislature’s Commission of Constitutional Accusations to look into Magallanes’ charges was announced Monday.

Fujimori was declared morally unfit for office in November after he fled to his ancestral homeland, Japan, amid mounting corruption scandals surrounding his ex-security adviser Vladimiro Montesinos. Montesinos remains a fugitive.

Juan Carlos Elguera, legal counsel for the congressional commission, said Magallanes’ complaint stems from the alleged disappearance of money paid by the United Nations last year to rent a Peruvian military helicopter for peacekeeping operations in East Timor.

Fujimori’s personal pilot was charged last month by a military court with disobedience and fraud for allegedly swindling some $835,000 of the U.N. helicopter money.

It was not immediately clear what role Fujimori is alleged to have played in the supposed scheme. Magallanes could not be reached for comment.

Three congressional subcommittees are currently investigating Fujimori, including a separate preliminary probe of the helicopter rental. But none of the investigations have progressed to a congressional vote to lift Fujimori’s immunity.

Fujimori has denied any criminal involvement in Montesinos’ reputed empire of illicit arms dealing, money laundering influence peddling, but has refused to return to Peru to respond to investigators’ questions.

Other investigations of Fujimori include allegations that he illegally abandoned his office and that he obstructed justice by ordering an illegal police raid on Montesinos’ apartment, where suitcases and crates with some 700 videos secretly taped by the spymaster were confiscated.

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