Page last updated at 19:08 GMT, Wednesday, 1 April 2009 20:08 UK

Fujimori defends himself at trial

Peruvian former President Alberto Fujimori, file pic from June 2008
Mr Fujimori said he had rescued Peru from the abyss

Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori has taken the stand in his own defence at the end of his 15-month trial for alleged human rights abuses.

Mr Fujimori, who led Peru from 1990 to 2000, is charged with responsibility for two death-squad massacres in which 25 people were killed.

He said he was innocent and the trial had proved nothing.

Mr Fujimori is also charged with human rights violations and the abduction of a prominent journalist and businessman.

His testimony came after that of more than 80 witnesses in 150 court sessions.

Mr Fujimori, who faces up to 30 years in prison if found guilty, is also due to testify Friday.

The televised trial has been suspended several times due to his poor health.

'Completely innocent'

Peru's former leader was as defiant as he had been on the first day of the trial, says the BBC's Dan Collyns from the court.

1991 Barrios Altos killings: 15 dead
1992 La Cantuta killings: 10 dead
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He said he was completely innocent of the charges against him, and that the lengthy trial had proved nothing.

He said he had rescued Peru from the bottom of the abyss when he became president in 1990, at the height of a bloody civil conflict with the Maoist-inspired Shining Path.

"I am proud, your honour, of having been able to give back peace to Peru, to 26 million Peruvians who were the direct witnesses of my work for that peace, and for having not been in charge of any criminal organisation," he told the judge.

He said it was difficult in modern Peru to understand the actions he took in that period but that one day schoolchildren would read about him in their history books as the leader who brought peace to Peru.

The prosecution accuses Mr Fujimori of directing a dirty war against suspected Maoist Shining Path guerrillas.

His defence lawyers maintain he was kept in the dark about clandestine killings by a death squad known as La Colina, and never approved of the counter-insurgency methods.

Mr Fujimori resigned as president in 2000 while in Tokyo. He stayed there for the next five years before flying to Chile in 2005 where he was arrested. Two years later he was extradited to Peru.

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