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Wednesday, 31 January, 2001, 11:03 GMT
Peruvian judges under cloud
Videotape
A video showing Montesinos greeting a judge
The Peruvian Supreme Court has suspended three judges under investigation for alleged links to the fugitive former intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos.

Alipio Montes de Oca, Luis Serpa and Victor Raul Castillo are among scores of senior officials implicated in a criminal network of corruption centering on Mr Montesinos.

Vladimiro Montesinos
Vladimiro Montesino's whereabouts are unknown
Prosecutors say the network was headed by Mr Montesinos for ten years until he was dismissed following a bribery scandal in September.

A video suspected of showing Mr Montesinos meeting the three Supreme Court judges went missing in suspicious circumstances last week.

The theft of the video has been seen as evidence that the former police chief still wields considerable influence in the country.

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.

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

'Vladivideos'

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

Peruvian demonstrators
Protesters demand all videos be made public
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.

But only a few of the 2,400 "Vladivideos" - many apparently showing high-ranking officials accepting bribes - taped by the former intelligence chief and his allies have come to light.

Mr Montesinos, top adviser to disgraced former President Alberto Fujimori, fled the country last October after a video showed him apparently bribing a congressman.

The former spy chief, whose whereabouts are unknown, is facing charges ranging from drug-trafficking to arms-smuggling and human rights abuses.

Peru had been hoping for a fresh start in the April 8 general elections, but concern about the videos is sweeping the nation.

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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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