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The BBC's Tom Gibb
"Prosecutors want to charge Fujimori with the same list of crimes contributed to his former spy chief"
 real 56k

Friday, 23 February, 2001, 16:54 GMT
Peru Congress votes to charge Fujimori
former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori
Mr Fujimori is unlikely to be forced to return to Peru
The Peruvian Congress has voted to charge the disgraced former president, Alberto Fujimori, with abandonment of office.

This paves the way for the attorney-general to file criminal charges with the Supreme Court.

There is a single and undeniable fact: Fujimori left and has not returned

Congressman Daniel Estrada
Mr Fujimori fled to Japan last November after his government became engulfed in a corruption scandal.

The 37-24 vote by Congress bars Mr Fujimori from holding any public office in Peru for 10 years, and if found guilty he could face imprisonment.

The former president, who holds Japanese nationality, has repeatedly said he intends to stay in Japan.

Correspondents say that in the absence of an extradition treaty between the two countries, there is little chance of the Japanese Government forcing him to return to face trial.

'Constitutional violation'

Supporters of Mr Fujimori said that the charges were part of a political vendetta against the former president.

Fujimori opponent
Fujimori's resignation led to widespread celebration
They were "skewed with political vengeance with the purpose of taking Fujimori out of the way so he can never again wield any power", congresswoman Carmen Lozada said.

Presenting the proposed charges to his colleagues, congressman Daniel Estrada was quoted by the French news agency AFP as saying:

"There is a single and undeniable fact: Fujimori left and has not returned."

He added that Mr Fujimori had violated the constitution by failing to report back on the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Brunei and instead going to Japan.

"The trip ended in Japan with no return leg. Evidently he did not come back, and so he violated the magna carta and the law of the land."

Montesinos inquiry

Mr Fujimori is the subject of six investigations, including allegedly diverting millions of dollars of state funds into secret overseas bank accounts, and drug trafficking.

former Peruvian spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos
Montesinos: Congressional inquiry extended
Congress has also voted to extend for another two months a congressional inquiry into Mr Fujimori's former intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos.

Mr Fujimori's downfall was precipitated by the release of a videotape showing Mr Montesinos allegedly bribing an opposition politician.

Mr Montesinos has been in hiding since October.

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See also:

14 Feb 01 | Americas
Prosecutors close in on Fujimori
12 Feb 01 | Americas
More videos set to shock Peru
07 Feb 01 | Americas
New bribe claim in Peru election
27 Jan 01 | Americas
Peru shocked by 'Vladi video' theft
21 Jan 01 | Americas
Montesinos relatives arrested
14 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Fujimori agrees to questioning
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