Fujimori dismisses Interpol notice

by Yuri Kageyama

Peru’s disgraced former president, Alberto Fujimori, has shrugged off Interpol’s notice for his arrest on murder and kidnapping charges, insists he is innocent and promises that he will someday return home to Peru.

Fujimori made the comments — his first since Interpol put him on its wanted list last week — in an interview Friday.

The former president personally delivered a video to AP that he said would be shown to his supporters at a meeting Saturday evening in the Peruvian Andes town of Huancayo. The half-hour video, which shows him speaking, was shot earlier Friday, he said.

Smiling often and looking relaxed in a dapper gray suit, Fujimori said the life of exile he has led in Japan since November 2000 has not changed after Interpol demanded his extradition to Peru.

“All these are accusations against me,” he said, referring to charges of illicit accounts, murder and misdirected funds. “Where are the billions?”

Fujimori, 64, fled from a corruption scandal in Peru and has become a celebrity in Japan, where some are enamored with the idea of a man of Japanese ancestry reaching political heights abroad.

As president, he gave Peru’s army sweeping powers in a successful campaign against Maoist guerrillas. He faces murder charges in Peru for allegedly authorizing massacres of suspected rebel sympathizers in the 1990s.

Japan has refused to extradite Fujimori or act on the Interpol request because he has Japanese citizenship and Tokyo has no extradition treaty with Peru.

“My intention to return remains strong,” Fujimori said. But he added: “I don’t know when.”

Fujimori has been doing the rounds on the lecture circuit and is a favorite among conservative Japanese politicians.

He proudly showed his video, describing it as “a call to my supporters” and a pledge to return and resume his career in Peruvian politics.

“Did they find bars of gold? No. Did they find accounts, companies, stocks in any part of the world? No,” he shouts in the video.

“Did I divert and improperly invest funds instead of constructing highways, schools and medical centers? No. Am I guilty of human rights violations and genocide? No.”

Earlier this month, Peruvian politicians approved embezzlement and illegal-enrichment charges against Fujimori.

Carlos Raffo, a former press adviser who is promoting Fujimori’s bid in the 2006 presidential elections, told the AP Lima bureau on Thursday that Saturday’s video appearance will be the start of a campaign “with a view to the 2006 elections.”