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Friday, 2 February, 2001, 07:56 GMT
Drugs lord claims Montesinos link
Vladimiro Montesinos
Mr Montesinos is now on the run
By Claire Marshall in Lima

A convicted drug baron has testified that he paid Peru's fugitive former intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, tens of thousands of dollars a month to facilitate cocaine trafficking in the country.

Interviewed as part of the on-going investigation into Mr Montesinos' alleged criminal activities, Demetrio Chavez, is the first witness to have directly linked the ex-spy chief with Peru's drugs trade.

Peruvian demonstrator
Anti-corruption demonstrations
The recorded testimony of Mr Chavez, who is in prison in Lima, was played at a press conference in the Peruvian Congress.

He said Mr Montesinos had once called him by telephone to warn him of a planned US anti-drugs operation.

Relationship soured

In return for Mr Montesinos' services, Mr Chavez claimed to have paid him $50,000 a month.

David Waisman, the head of the Congressional commission investigating Mr Montesinos, said the relationship turned sour when the former intelligence chief tried to up his price to $100,000 a month.

Mr Chavez, nicknamed Vaticano, first made these allegations against Mr Montesinos in 1996 after being arrested in Colombia.

However, he retracted the charges four days later in a confused and incoherent statement at his trial.

Altered testimony

According to the commission, Mr Chavez said he was tortured by the military to change his testimony.

Investigators say that Mr Montesinos, who is now on the run and thought to be outside Peru, headed a syndicate, which controlled the armed forces, the media, and the judiciary.

The amount of money found in his secret bank accounts in Switzerland has so far topped $70m.

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See also:

31 Jan 01 | Americas
Peruvian judges under cloud
21 Jan 01 | Americas
Montesinos relatives arrested
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'
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