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The BBC's Clare Marshall in Lima
"The lawyer was stopped by police when he tried to leave his home in Lima"
 real 28k

Sunday, 24 December, 2000, 03:54 GMT
Peru arrests ex-spy chief's lawyer

Montesinos: Before plastic surgery

The Peruvian authorities have used a tough new anti-corruption law to arrest the lawyer of fugitive former intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos.

Mr Corrochamo was stopped by police when he tried to leave his home in a Lima suburb a few hours after an order was published for his arrest.

The BBC's Clare Marshall in Lima says it is thought that this could be the beginning of a wave of arrests of people connected with Mr Montesinos as part of the on-going investigation into his alleged criminal activities.

Javier Corrochamo is suspected of maintaining close links with the former intelligence chief and has been accused of accepting bribes from drug traffickers in return for assisting them in their legal battles.

Under the new anti-corruption laws, suspects can now be detained for 15 days before they have been formally prosecuted.

The Justice Minister, Diego Garcia Sayan, told the BBC that, whilst Mr Montesinos himself is believed to have fled the country, there are many other people in Peru connected to his activities.

He said that there was an inner circle of around 8 to 10 people who were being probed, but that the total number of suspects was as high as 200.

New face

The Venezuelan Government admitted on Thursday that Mr Montesinos could be hiding in Venezuela with a new face.

Foreign Minister Jose Vicente Rangel had previously rejected newspaper reports about Mr Montesino's presence in Caracas, dismissing them as part of a campaign to discredit President Hugo Chavez.

Mr Montesinos has been eluding the authorities since October, but in recent days Venezuelan and Peruvian media have been detailing his movements.

The fugitive intelligence chief is known to have escaped from Peru on a luxury yacht, foiling Costa Rican immigration with a beard and false identity.

He is then said to have flown to Aruba in a small plane, before entering Venezuela where he had his nose and eyelids reshaped in a Caracas plastic surgery clinic.

He left without paying the bill, managing to evade a squad of Peruvian agents, and there has been no known trace of him since.

Mr Montesinos - who was the closest and most powerful ally of disgraced former President Alberto Fujimori - is wanted in Peru on charges of corruption, bribery and other offences.

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See also:

14 Dec 00 | Americas
Missing spy chief 'has fled Peru'
12 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Fujimori secures Japanese haven
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