As the Peruvian government requests Japan for extradition, former President Alberto Fujimori plots political return
Last week, Peruvian authorities formally asked Japan to extradite former President Alberto Fujimori who faces charges of crimes against humanity in his country. At the same time, Fujimori, who fled to the Asian country in 2000 amid the collapse of his authoritarian regime, has organized a new political party to take part in the next presidential elections.
His movement "Si cumple" (Yes, he accomplishes) has been formed by his supporters in Peru, as the current government headed by Alejandro Toledo has not delivered on dealing with employment and poverty. Moreover, the possible revival of the extremist Maoist guerrilla group Shining Path, militarily defeated by Fujimori through doubtful means, also puts the former president in the center of the scene.
To respond to Fujimori's verbal offensive from his comfortable exile in Tokyo, Toledo's Ambassador to Japan Luis J. Macchiavello submitted the three-volume, 700-page extradition request to the Foreign Ministry. The Lima government wants Mr. Fujimori returned to Peru to face numerous charges, including murder, embezzlement and treason, but the extradition request applies only to the murder charge.
During Fujimori's regime, notorious paramilitary death squads as the "Colina Group", illegally fought rebel forces and political enemies with authorities tacit support. Such groups have been tied to a number of massacres at the beginning of the 1990's, as the one in which 15 people were assassinated in 1991 and nine students kidnapped and then murdered in La Cantuta University the following year.
In declarations to the Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun, the former President denied any connection to the massacres. "My position on that crime has not varied since I learned of it: I consider it a loathsome fact and completely contrary to my government's antiterrorist strategy", he said. Fujimori also questioned the 700-page presentation to the Japanese government: "I don't have any connection with these terrible facts: On the contrary, I'm responsible for eradicating these types of crimes".
Despite Peru's pressures, Tokyo looks reluctant to drive its guest back to South America. Chief cabinet secretary Yasuo Fukuda indicated that Japan, which has so far rejected such requests, would not change its position on the matter. "As we have repeatedly said, we will respond according to our domestic laws," he said. "Generally, in principle, we will not extradite any alleged criminals if they are Japanese citizens."
The Peruvian response to Tokyo came from Foreign Minister Alan Wagner who held a press conference in Lima to coincide with the delivery of the extradition request. "There are reasonable indications of guilt". Mr. Wagner said. "Nationality cannot be an obstacle to justice".
Fujimori is actually "imprisoned" in Japan as cannot leave the country due to in March Interpol placed the former president on its most-wanted list. His government marked by corruption scandals, death squad's massacres and draconian austerity measures won't mean the end of his political career, as long as the local political class keeps on failing in providing with accurate responses to people demands.