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Last Updated:  Friday, 21 March, 2003, 01:31 GMT
Peru's ex-spy chief faints in trial

By Elliott Gotkine
BBC correspondent in Lima

Peru's former intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos collapses during his trial
Mr Montesinos has been standing for about 45 minutes
Peru's former spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos has fainted at a hearing where he was to be sentenced on corruption charges.

The former right hand man of ex-President Alberto Fujimori is accused of using his influence to get his ex-lover's half-brother freed from jail, and her uncle out of trouble with the courts.

Mr Montesinos faces at least 57 separate trials, on charges including drug trafficking, embezzlement and organising death squads.

Prosecutors in this first public trial have demanded a five-year jail term for Mr Montesinos.

Mr Montesinos had used every delaying tactic possible to get the trial postponed. But in the end, it was his health, rather than his lawyer, that came to his aid.

Mr Montesinos, who had been standing for 45 minutes while his sentence was being read out, appeared to lose his balance.

The former-spy chief crashed to the ground. He was quickly surrounded by policemen and his lawyer, who helped him back to his chair.

The 57-year old Mr Montesinos, obviously in pain, grimaced and clutched his right knee. He was led away to the court's clinic for treatment, while his ex-lover and co-accused, Jacqueline Beltran, tried and failed to suppress her laughter.

An hour later, medical staff appeared before the court. They said Mr Montesinos had suffered a sudden increase in blood pressure, possibly brought on by his gastritis, which had caused him to faint.

He had vomited at least once, been given a pill, and was now sleeping. They added that Mr Montesinos was in no fit state to return to the court and suggested the trial be postponed.

Judge Villa obliged and court will resume on Monday.

Peru ex-spy chief silent at trial
21 Feb 03 |  Americas
Fugitive spy chief back in Peru
25 Jun 01 |  Americas
Country profile: Peru
04 Jan 03 |  Country profiles

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