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Saturday, 18 November, 2000, 05:29 GMT
Montesinos accused of new crimes
Demonstrators clash with police in Lima
Lima has seen unrest since the scandal broke
A special prosecutor in Peru has accused the disgraced former intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, of heading a criminal organisation with links to drug traffickers and arms smugglers.

The prosecutor, Jose Ugaz, said there were ties between the organisation and agents of the Peruvian National Intelligence Service, the armed forces, the police and members of the judiciary.

Alberto Fujimori
The president is in Tokyo amid rumours he is seeking asylum
The accusations came amid reports that a top-level US delegation is to visit Peru on Monday.

Correspondents say this could possibly pave the way for a dignified retreat for President Alberto Fujimori, who is coming under pressure to resign in the wake of a bribery scandal involving Mr Montesinos.

Secret accounts

The former spy chief is on the run but still thought to be somewhere in Peru.

Mr Ugaz said Mr Montesinos had also tried to transfer about $50m held in secret bank accounts in Switzerland, but that his attempts had been blocked by the authorities.

On Friday, Mr Fujimori stopped off in Tokyo on his way back from an economic summit in Brunei amid rumours that he might be seeking political asylum in an Asian country.

Mr Fujimori is coming under increasing pressure to resign
Mr Fujimori is coming under increasing pressure to resign
He said it was likely he would extend his visit to Japan to continue contacts with the countries economic authorities.

The president, who is of Japanese descent, said on Friday he would be returning to Peru but did not specify when.


The US delegation to Peru is expected to be led by Peter Romero, acting US Assistant Secretary fo State for Western Hemispheric Affairs.

Correspondents say Washington is keen to see Peru regain stability.

Mr Fujimori's political influence has been waning since a video was aired of Mr Montesinos apparently bribing an opposition politician to switch to the government party.

The incident prompted Mr Fujimori to call early presidential elections in which he says he will not stand.

Opposition control

Earlier this week, opposition legislators wrest control of Congress from the ruling party by voting to remove its speaker and replacing her with their own representative.

The former speaker, Martha Hildebrandt, was accused her of blocking attempts to investigate Mr Montesinos.

Correspondents say the shift of power opens the way for possible congressional efforts to remove Mr Fujimori on grounds of "moral incapacity".

Confusion about Mr Fujimori's plans has been fuelled by some ministers, who suggested he might resign even before next April's elections.

The president has insisted he will stay in office until next July.

After the bribery scandal became public, Mr Montesinos fled to Panama, then returned after failing to be granted asylum, and has now vanished.

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See also:

17 Nov 00 | Americas
Fujimori 'denies seeking asylum'
15 Nov 00 | Americas
Secret dungeons found in Peru
14 Nov 00 | Americas
Pressure piled on Fujimori
26 Oct 00 | Americas
Hunt for Peru spy chief
27 Sep 00 | Americas
Peru halts spy investigation
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