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Peru seeks Fujimori's extradition from Chile


THE Peruvian government last Tuesday formally lodged an extradition request with Chile for former president Alberto Fujimori, who is wanted by Lima on corruption and human rights charges.
Chile's foreign ministry confirmed the extradition request -- from Peru's ambassador to Chile, Jose Antonio Meier, and Peruvian prosecutor Antonio Maldonado -- was delivered to Chilean Foreign Minister Ignacio Walker
"Today we have delivered to foreign minister Ignacio Walker a diplomatic document formalising the extradition request for Peruvian citizen Alberto Fujimori," Meier told reporters Wednesday at the Chilean foreign ministry.
"Through this act, the government of Peru states its obligation and right to seek justice," Meier said after delivering the petition.
A Supreme Court judge will now weigh the Peruvian request.
Fujimori, 67, has been detained here since early November. He arrived unannounced in Santiago from Japan planning to launch a fresh 2006 campaign for Peru's presidency, but was instead arrested at Lima's request.
Peruvian investigators have prepared a series of corruption and human rights charges against Fujimori stemming from his 1990-2000 presidency.
He still has a loyal following in Peru, where he is credited with reining in economic chaos and leftist insurgency. However, he is also accused of trampling on democracy and human rights.
Fujimori, who spent Christmas and New Year's Eve in Chilean detention, has said he is innocent and is the victim of political persecution.
The extradition request cited 12 counts against Fujimori, 10 of which related to alleged acts of corruption with the remaining two counts alleging grave rights violations, according to Maldonado.
Fujimori is accused of corrupting officials and overseeing forced abductions, homicides and torture.
Peru's government delivered 12 boxes of documents weighing 93 kilograms (205 pounds) in support of its extradition request.
Chile's foreign ministry is now obliged to forward the extradition request to Supreme Court judge Orlando Alvarez. Alvarez is the judge who ordered Fujimori's arrest shortly after his surprise arrival in Santiago in November.
Under Chilean law, the courts have to review any extradition request from a foreign government. It will be up to Alvarez to approve or reject the request.
Spokesman Osvaldo Puccio said the Chilean government would respect a court ruling on the extradition bid and that the process would be impartial despite Fujimori's standing as a former head of state.
"The Chilean government acts on the basis of facts, not speculation," Puccio told reporters.
Fujimori resigned as president in 2000 by fax from Japan, where he lived in exile for five years.
Tokyo refused Lima's requests to extradite Fujimori and he was granted Japanese nationality.
Fujimori's Chilean lawyer said last month that his client has been spending his time in detention reading and learning the guitar as well as growing roses in a little garden.
A recent poll found he would make round two of the April presidential vote if he could run, although Peruvian law prohibits him from holding office until 2011.
He is being held in the school of a police academy. Peru's presidential election will be held April 09.