Peru’s Fujimori sentenced to six years in prison

Peru’s Supreme Court on Tuesday sentenced jailed ex-President Alberto Fujimori to six years in prison for abusing his authority when he ordered an illegal search of his spy chief’s apartments — allegedly to ensure that incriminating videotapes would never see the light of day. Fujimori had earlier pleaded guilty to the charge, offering a “sincere confession” in the hope it would earn him a lighter sentence.

Fujimori’s decade-old regime was crumbling under the weight of corruption scandals, spawned by his intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, when Fujimori sent military officers posing as judicial officials to Montesinos’ apartment building on Nov. 7, 2000. Using a fake search warrant, they seized more than 50 large suitcases and 50 boxes reportedly full of videotapes secretly recorded by Montesinos documenting the payoffs and dirty deals that had cemented the regime’s hold on power.

But two days later, while Montesinos remained in hiding, Fujimori called a news conference in which only two suitcases, and an impressive array of diamond-crusted watches, were on display.

Fujimori’s lawyer, César Nakaski, said Fujimori would appeal the sentence on grounds that the military officer who posed as a prosecutor with the fake search warrant received only a five-year sentence. Under Peru’s sentencing guidelines, he said, the instigator of a crime cannot receive a harsher penalty than the actual perpetrator.

Prosecutors had sought the maximum penalty of seven years in prison and fine of 1,000,000 soles, or about $338,000.

Fujimori, 69, received almost three months credit off his prison sentence because he has been jailed since Sept. 22, 2007, when he was extradited from Chile. He is scheduled to complete his six year sentence on Sept. 21, 2013.

Fujimori still faces six other charges for corruption and human rights violations. The most serious accuses him of authorizing the murder of 25 suspected collaborators of the Shining Path guerrilla movement. If convicted he could face 30 years in prison and a fine of $33 million.

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