Fujimori is no-show at former spy chief Vladimirio Montesinos’ trial

For the second time in a week, jailed former President Alberto Fujimori failed to show for the criminal trial against Vladimiro Montesinos, his once-feared intelligence chief.

Fujimori, currently on trial for allegedly sanctioning the Colina group paramilitary death squad, was first summoned by the Second Anti-corruption Court to testify in the “March of the Four Corners” trial on Nov. 10, then again on Monday, Nov. 17.

During the “March of the Four Corners,” a massive protest march that signaled the end of Fujimori’s reign in 2000, Montesinos allegedly applied a plan to infiltrate the protest in order to instigate acts of violence that would discredit the movement against Fujimori’s constitutionally dubious second reelection. Montesinos is accused of ordering the torching Peru’s electoral tribunal headquarters and the National Bank to frame his political opponents for arson. Six people died in the bank building fire, trapped by the flames.

“What Fujimori has to say is important because we need to specify who gave the order for the police to retreat and who allowed the vandals to destroy and set fire to institutional buildings,” said Public Prosecutor Carlos Ramos Heredia.

Montesinos’ trial was suspended until Nov. 24 after his lawyer, Estela Valdivia, also failed to show up.

The former president’s lawyer, César Nakazaki, repeatedly said that his client would not testify in Montesinos’ trial before Peru’s National Neoplasia Institute, or INEN, reported on Fujimori’s fragile health due to hypertension, cardiovascular problems and a high risk of thrombosis and gastritis.

Fujimori is only required to testify in cases he was extradited for, said Nakazaki. “We are not going to accept any requests for (Fujimori) to act as a witness, mostly because, while doctors have Fujimori’s health under control, they always ask that his intellectual efforts be gradual even in his own trial.”

“It is an elemental respect for my client’s rights that a person face trial in at least a minimum state of health,” added Nakazaki. “One does not first destroy his health first and then try him, because if that were the case the trial would become a parody. I might as well kill him, right now.”

The Court has called on Peru’s National Institute of Forensic Medicine to corroborate the INEN’s diagnostic, and has summoned Fujimori for a third trial date, on December 2.

According to Fujimoriontrial.org, the public prosecutor has suggested that the Court could move Montesinos’ criminal trial to Fujimori’s cell during afternoon hours, if for health reasons the former president cannot leave the detention centre where he is being held.

Last June, Fujimori got get an eight-day break from his human rights abuse trial so that doctors could treat him for a pre-cancerous lesion in his mouth.

Then, three weeks later, Montesinos testified that his former boss was innocent of charges he sanctioned the Colina group paramilitary death squad.

Fujimori, 70, could hardly contain a grin as his former spy chief depicted him as a “courageous” hero who defeated a bloody leftist insurgency and lifted Peru from its knees.

“I have come here to be able to clarify that Mr. Fujimori bears no responsibility for the acts that are being tried in this case,” said Montesinos, before launching into a contentious, and often sarcastic, three-hour exchange with the lead prosecutor, José Peláez. The judges later struck Montesinos’ entire testimony from the record based on his sudden refusal to continue answering questions midway through his court appearance.

Montesinos is currently serving 20 years in prison on multiple convictions for everything from bribing media barons, judges and legislators to selling assault rifles to Colombian FARC guerrillas, and also faces a separate trial accusing him of directing the Colina group.

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.

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