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Saturday, 27 January, 2001, 07:55 GMT
Peru shocked by 'Vladi video' theft
Former security chief Vladimiro Montesinos
Many believe Mr Montesinos is behind events
By Claire Marshall

A key piece of evidence in the investigation into the disgraced former Peruvian intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, has gone missing in suspicious circumstances.

The theft of a video suspected of showing Mr Montesinos meeting three Supreme Court judges has been seen as evidence that he still wields considerable influence in the country.

Peruvian demonstrators
Protesters demand all videos be made public
The video was labelled ''the doctor with the judges'' and was stolen from a locked case on the first floor of a courtroom building in the capital, Lima.

The lawyer, Jose Ugaz, who is leading the investigation into Mr Montesinos' financial dealings, said the theft was very serious.

700 videos

Mr Montesinos, who was himself exposed by a video showing him apparently bribing a congressman, is now a fugitive wanted on corruption and rights abuse charges.

It is thought the content of the stolen video is similar to one publicised earlier this week which showed Mr Montesinos apparently bribing a top judge to influence the outcome of a legal case.

Mr Montesinos, who is known in Peru as ''the doctor'', left around 700 ''Vladi videos'' many of poor quality in his apartment when he fled the country in September.

These are being examined by the authorities and the ones revealed to the public so far have shown various top public officials allegedly being coerced by Mr Montesinos.

Demonstrators outside Congress on Friday demanded that all the videos be made public before elections in April.

Along with the collapse of the original team investigating the corruption allegations, the discovery of this theft lends weight to the idea that the fugitive former spy chief is still able to manipulate events in Peru.

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See also:

21 Jan 01 | Americas
Montesinos relatives arrested
14 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Fujimori agrees to questioning
28 Dec 00 | Americas
Peru hunts fugitive via internet
24 Dec 00 | Americas
Peru arrests ex-spy chief's lawyer
14 Dec 00 | Americas
Missing spy chief 'has fled Peru'
12 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Fujimori secures Japanese haven
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