World

Peru's former president pleads guilty to corruption charges

Former Peru President Alberto Fujimori pleaded guilty Monday in Lima at the start of his trial on charges that he authorized wiretaps and bribes of politicians, journalists and businessmen.
Former president Alberto Fujimori looks on during a hearing at a courtroom in Lima, on July 20, 2009 where he was convicted and sentenced to 7½ years. ((Karel Navarro/Associated Press))

Former Peru President Alberto Fujimori pleaded guilty Monday in Lima at the start of his trial on charges that he authorized wiretaps and bribes of politicians, journalists and businessmen. 

He now faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison.

Prosecutors said Fujimori, 71, and his former spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos used state funds to secretly wiretap 28 politicians, journalists and businessmen, bribe 13 congressmen to join Fujimori's party and buy off a TV station and a newspaper editorial board for political propaganda.

Chief prosecutor Jose Pelaez said he had planned to call 153 witnesses, including Montesinos and Fujimori's ex-wife.

Democratically elected in 1990, Fujimori ruled Peru with an increasingly iron fist until his corruption-riddled government collapsed in 2000 when a videotape surfaced showing Montesinos bribing a congressman.

In the past two years, a Supreme Court panel has convicted Fujimori of crimes against humanity for authorizing military death squads, of abuse of power for an illegal search and of embezzlement for paying his spy chief $15 million in state funds.

Peruvian prison sentences do not accumulate, so the 25-year murder and kidnapping sentence Fujimori received in the death-squad trial is the maximum term he can serve.

Prosecutors said they will seek an eight-year sentence on the three corruption counts and that Fujimori pay $1.7 million to the state and $1 million to be shared between the 28 people whose phone lines were illegally tapped.