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Peru's ex-spy chief returns to Lima



LIMA, Peru (CNN) -- Peruvian authorities said Monday they hope the country's former intelligence chief can help them track down public funds they said he embezzled.

After eight months on the run, Vladimiro Montesinos was arrested Saturday night in Caracas, Venezuela. Peruvian officials now want to question him about his activities during nearly a decade as the right-hand man to President Alberto Fujimori, now in self-exile in Japan.

Montesinos returned to Lima aboard a Peruvian government plane about 10 Monday night.

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"We received information from people that were tightly linked to Montesinos, so I don't believe that we will have big surprises," Peruvian prosecutor Jose Ugaz told CNN.

Montesinos was caught on videotape in September apparently bribing a congressman, which helped bring down Fujimori. He is accused of a number of crimes, including stealing state funds, taking kickbacks from illegal drugs and arms deals, directing death squads, and ordering the torture of opponents.

"I'm sure he still has some new things to say, but I believe that the most important cooperation Montesinos can present to the Peruvian authorities is the identification of the countries where he sent the money and tried to recover that money from these different places," Ugaz said.

Montesinos: Life on the run
September 14, 2000Montesinos is caught on tape allegedly bribing an opposition lawmaker
October 29, 2000Montesinos flees Peru
November 3, 2000Switzerland freezes $50 million tied to Montesinos
November 13, 2000Peruvian President Fujimori makes surprise trip to Japan
November 16, 2000Fujimori resigns
February 22, 2001Venezuela denies protecting Montesinos
April 20, 2001Peru offers $5 million for the return of Montesinos
June 23, 2001Montesinos' fortune is believed to amount to $1 billion
June 24, 2001Montesinos is arrested in Venezuela; extradited to Peru
Source: Reuters

Venezuelan authorities deported Montesinos because he entered the country with false identification. He fled Peru last October.

Montesinos was captured by officials from Venezuela's military intelligence in an area of Caracas called 23 de Enero. He was taken to a military jail.

Peruvian Prime Minister Javier Perez de Cuellar called the capture a moral victory for Peru.

Authorities in Lima and Washington told CNN the FBI helped the operation by providing information that was "crucial in locating Montesinos," allowing authorities in Peru and Venezuela to move against him within days.

"The FBI played a very important role supporting our investigation and helping Peruvian authorities find, capture and deliver Montesinos to Peru," Ugaz said.

The FBI became involved when an American bank told agents it had been approached by someone wanting to withdraw money for Montesinos, Ugaz said. Intelligence sources said FBI agents left the actual arrest to local authorities and took no part in the raid.

The FBI had no comment Monday on any role it may have played in Montesinos' capture.

Peru's president-elect, Alejandro Toledo, said Sunday the arrest of the former spymaster could be the break Peru needs to get Fujimori back from his self-exile in Japan. Because Fujimori has Japanese nationality, he cannot be extradited, according to Japanese law.

Peru has charged Fujimori, its hard-line president from 1990 to 2000, with dereliction of duty, and the attorney general also has called for him to be tried for responsibility in a 1991 massacre by an army death squad.





RELATED STORIES:
RELATED SITES:
• Presidency of Peru
• Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru
• Congress of the Republic of Peru

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