Peru's Fujimori to be extradited from Chile

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SANTIAGO, Sep 21 (Reuters) Peru's former President Alberto Fujimori lost his fight today to avoid extradition from Chile to Lima, where he faces charges of human rights abuse and corruption dating from his 1990-2000 rule.

In a surprise decision which contradicted an earlier ruling by one of its own judges and which cannot be appealed, Chile's Supreme Court said it accepted most of the arguments made by Peruvian prosecutors who want to put Fujimori on trial.

The court was unanimous in accepting the evidence from two notorious massacres -- known as Barrios Altos and La Cantuta -- in the early 1990s, when Peru was at war with the feared Maoist rebel group the Shining Path.

Students, a professor and a young child were among the two dozen killed in the massacres, which Peruvian state prosecutors blame on death squads run by Fujimori's government.

''(The vote) was much easier than we thought and the important thing above all was Barrios Altos and La Cantuta,'' said Alberto Chaigneau, president of the courtroom where the case was heard.

''The voting was unanimous,'' he told a scrum of Chilean, Peruvian and Japanese reporters outside the court.

Fujimori, 69, has been in Chile since November 2005, when he was arrested on an international warrant after flying into the country from Japan. He was planning to launch a political comeback in Peru, where he served two terms as president.

Today, Fujimori was under arrest in a house just outside Santiago. There was a heavy police presence in the area.

Peruvian prosecutors want to try Fujimori on charges of embezzling millions of dollars and using excessive anti-terrorism measures to crush the Shining Path.

But many Peruvians still admire him for capturing the group's leaders and defeating its insurgency.

In Lima today, the government urged the Peruvian people not to make the ruling ''an issue of division''.

''Now we proceed to the next step, which is to bring former president Fujimori to Lima and guarantee due process,'' Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo told local radio.

Gisela Ortiz, whose sister was one of the victims of the La Cantuta massacre, welcomed the ruling, telling reporters in the Peruvian capital: ''This fight has not been in vain''.

Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas Director of U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, hailed the verdict as a victory.

''After years of evading justice, Fujimori will finally have to respond to the charges and evidence against him in the country he used to run like a mafia boss,'' he said.

REUTERS ARB ND2010

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