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Tuesday, 13 August, 2002, 07:09 GMT 08:09 UK
Fujimori plans a comeback
A woman in Lima holds a mock wake for Mr Fujimori
Many in Peru want the ex-president to stand trial
Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori hopes to return from exile in Japan to run again for the presidency, according to a leading Japanese newspaper.

"In the near future, the Peruvian people will realise that the criminal charges I face are misplaced," he told the Mainichi Shimbun. "In that case, I would like to return and run for election."


I am planning for the day in the future when I can return

Alberto Fujimori
Mr Fujimori fled almost three years ago amid a corruption scandal involving his former intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, which brought down his 10-year authoritarian government.

The Peruvian authorities have repeatedly asked Tokyo to send him back to face charges of alleged human rights violations and embezzlement.

But Japan refuses to extradite Mr Fujimori because he holds Japanese citizenship.

Planning to return

There has been mounting speculation in recent months that Mr Fujimori was planning to return to Peruvian politics.

Alberto Fujimori
Japan refuses to extradite Mr Fujimori
In July Carlos Raffo, an independent journalist who worked as a Fujimori image consultant, said he had his sights firmly fixed on running in Peru's 2006 presidential elections.

With the economy increasingly troubled, support for current the President, Alejandro Toledo, is low. A recent poll suggested Mr Fujimori would get 14% of the vote - second only to another former president, Alan Garcia, who polled nearly 40%.

Mr Garcia fled Peru in 1992 to avoid being arrested by Mr Fujimori's soldiers on embezzlement charges. He returned in 2001 and contested the presidential run-off against Mr Toledo following Mr Fujimori's departure.

Massacres

Alberto Fujimori admitted to the newspaper that if he went back to Peru at the moment, he would probably be arrested. "I don't want to take that risk," he said.

"But I am planning for the day in the future when I can return," he told the paper.

The Peruvian Government wants Mr Fujimori - who ruled the country from 1990 to 2000 - to face charges linked to two notorious massacres by an army death squad, as well as separate charges of corruption and embezzlement.

Aftermath of a massacre
Fujimori has been implicated in massacres
"I did not sanction this operation and there is no evidence to justify my arrest," Mr Fujimori is quoted as saying.

The former president has also been implicated in the alleged forced sterilisation of women as part of a family planning scheme during the time he was in power.

Mr Fujimori denied any wrongdoing and said the women had given prior consent, but critics claim they were "tricked, obligated or intimidated" into having the surgery as a form of birth control.

But so far Japan has refused to hand Mr Fujimori over to Peru because of Japanese extradition laws.

Shortly after his arrival in Tokyo, Mr Fujimori was recognised as a Japanese national on the grounds that his parents were Japanese immigrants to Peru.

But clear intentions of running for public office in another country could jeopardise his status as a Japanese citizen, as it would go against the country's nationality law.


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23 Feb 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
31 Jan 02 | Americas
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