Peru's Fujimori to be sent home to face charges

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SANTIAGO, Sep 22 (Reuters) Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori was due to set foot in Peru for the first time in seven years today after being extradited from Chile to face charges of human rights abuse and corruption.

Fujimori, who ruled Peru from 1990-2000, had once hoped to return to his homeland under his own volition to rekindle his political career.

Instead, he will be flown to Lima from the Chilean capital Santiago on a Peruvian police plane. Once there, he seems certain to be put on trial, accused of ordering two notorious massacres in the early 1990s during Peru's fight with the Maoist rebel group the Shining Path.

The 69-year-old's forced departure from Chile comes nearly two years after he arrived unexpectedly in Santiago from Japan, the country of his parents' birth.

He had spent five years in exile in Japan following the collapse of his government in 2000 and had hoped to launch a bid for the Peruvian presidency in 2006.

But he was arrested on an international warrant and has spent the past two years fighting extradition.

That battle ended yesterday when Chile's Supreme Court ruled in favor of Peruvian prosecutors, unanimously accepting evidence linking Fujimori to the two massacres -- known as Barrios Altos and La Cantuta.

Students, a professor and a child were among the 25 killed in the massacres, which Peruvian state prosecutors blame on death squads run by Fujimori's government.

There was confusion yesterday as to how and when Fujimori would be taken to Lima.

Chilean police initially said he would be taken to the border within hours of the court ruling and taken overland into Peru.

But the Peruvian government later said a police plane was on its way from Lima to Santiago to collect him, and Fujimori's daughter Keiko said he would not arrive until today.

''Tomorrow at midday we will gather at the airport to give ex-President Alberto Fujimori the welcome he deserves,'' she told reporters in Lima.

Fujimori spokesman Carlos Raffo asked the government to take measures to ensure the former president's safety once he arrives, suggesting how divisive Fujimori remains even seven years after his fall from power.

For some Peruvians, he is the man who had the guts not only to stand up to the Shining Path but to send troops into the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima in 1997 to end a four-month hostage crisis.

Others view him as a corrupt despot who milked state funds for himself and cronies during his tenure.


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