February 2, 2007 [LINK / comment]

Peru seeks to extradite Fujimori

Over a year after former President Alberto Fujimori arrived in Chile, hoping to become a presidential candidate, the government of Peru is about to file an extradition request to bring him to justice. Special prosecutor Carlos Briceño will present new evidence that Fujimori was directly involved with human rights abuses, and embezzlement. See CNN.com. The reasons for the lengthy delay since the original formal extradition request was made in January 2006 is rather puzzling. I suspect it may reflect the desire of the government of Alan Garcia to go out of its way to avoid any appearance of political influence in the judicial process. After Fujimori's "autocoup" in April 1992, Garcia (who had recently left the presidency) was accused of corruption and pursued by police, and he was lucky to escape from the country. Fujimori was married to a wealthy Japanese woman while still under house arrest last April, and was granted conditional freedom in May. Fujimori was often called "Chinochet," referring to his Asian heritage and his emulation of the authoritarian methods of Chilean dictator Pinochet, who recently died. I have often compared Fujimori to Richard Nixon, since both presidents used underhanded means to push through controversial policy measures, sometimes reversing pledges they had made while on the campaign trail. In many countries of Latin America, newly inaugurated presidents have a nasty habit of persecuting their predecessors on corruption charges, which often are partly valid. Eventually, the persecutors become the persecutees. Mexico, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica are some of the leading examples.