Vladimiro Montesinos’ trial for corruption resumes after short suspension

Peru’s former spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos’ trial resumed on Monday, about two weeks after it was suspended when some of his co-defendants stopped showing up for trial.

Montesinos and four former members of Peru’s National Election Board, or JNE, are currently on trial for corruption and illicit association to commit a felony.

The trial was suspended shortly after it began — on April 27, 2009 — when Montesinos’ co-defendants simply stopped showing up to court, reported Radio Radio Programas, or RPP.

Montesinos is currently serving 20 years at the top-security naval prison in the port of Callao on multiple convictions for everything from bribing media barons, judges and legislators to selling assault rifles to Colombian FARC guerrillas.

He is also currently on trial in another court, accused of directing the Colina paramilitary death squad and coordinating provocateurs who infiltrated a massive anti-government protest in July 2000 to torch the National Bank headquarters to discredit opponents of his boss, jailed ex-President Alberto Fujimori. The fire killed six people.

The Colina group machine gunned 15 people, including an 8-year-old boy, in a the courtyard of a tenement building in Lima’s Barrios Altos district in 1991 and kidnapped and murdered nine students and one professor at La Cantuta University in 1992.

A master of subterfuge, Montesinos cultivated an atmosphere of paranoia and fear among Peru’s political, business and military elite with rumors that he kept a vast collection of wiretapped phone conversations and videos documenting orgies, illicit drug use and myriad acts of corruption.

Montesinos fled to Panama after one of his own videos was leaked, showing him bribing Congressman Beto Kouri in September 2000. It was the first of the infamous ‘vladi-videos’ to be broadcast and led to the spy chief going underground until his capture in Venezuela in June 2001.

Last November, authorities recovered more than $12 million deposited in various bank accounts belonging to people tied to a Mafia led by the former intelligence chief.

The funds were deposited in Peruvian and Swiss banks in the 1990s — a time when Peru witnessed the creation of one of the most extensive state-run networks of corruption in Latin American history.

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