Peru PM's ex-wife cries torture

2000-11-14 23:21

Lima - Peru's President Alberto Fujimori, whose term is set to end early following a bribery scandal, is considering a run for the assembly, his chief of staff Federico Salas said on Tuesday.

The embattled president agreed to call an early presidential election and not stand after his ex-adviser and secret police chief Vladimiro Montesinos was seen on a video offering a bribe to an opposition lawmaker.

Now his chief of staff said the president has not ruled out running for the legislature as a ruling party candidate. He did stress that the president has not made a final decision.

Salas said that before Fujimori left on Monday for Brunei, where he will attend the annual Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, the two had a brief discussion of Fujimori's potential interest in a lawmaker's post.

General Elections in April

The law in Peru doesn't require that the president resign to declare his candidacy for another government position.

Last week, Peru's assembly formally set a date of 8 April 2001 for the elections for president, vice-president and the assembly.

Montesinos officially remains a fugitive from justice.

Should Fujimori run and win a legislative post, he will certainly see some familiar faces at work.

'Ex-Wife Tortured'

In the meantime Fujimori's former wife, opposition lawmaker Susana Higuchi, has charged that she was tortured several times, including as recently as June, on orders from her ex-husband's former right hand man and former spy chief Montesinos.

She said during a stay in a Lima hospital in June she was given electric shocks and burnt on her back. Had her sister not taken her out of Lima's Loayza Hospital, "I would already be dead," she told local press.

She chose not to expose the torture, which she said also had taken place at least once previously at a military facility, because she did not wish to jeopardise her ex-husband.

The Lima physician who attended to Higuchi when she was admitted to the hospital in June, however, said that none of her allegations were true.

Carlos Mauricci told a Peruvian radio station that Higuchi was admitted to the hospital for asthma-related problems, accompanied by her personal attendants, and was discharged 24 hours later without incident.

The doctor said he did not understand why she made no mention of the alleged violations at that time.

Higuchi divorced Fujimori, the only ethnic Japanese head of state outside Asia, in 1994 after lengthy divorce proceedings during which the president accused her in a Lima court of "grave injury."

Fujimori's marriage began to dissolve when Higuchi publicly accused some of the president's relatives in March 1992 of selling second-hand clothes donated by Japanese citizens for poor Peruvians. - Sapa-AFP