|In this photo released by Alberto Fujimori’s press service, the former Pervuian president reviews a map of Peru before landing in Santiago, Chile. He flew as a stowaway from Tokyo.|
He escaped Peru in 2000 under the guise of a state visit to Japan and sought refuge in his ancestral homeland. The stealthy return last week of the fugitive authoritarian to South America has roiled the region and jolted officials from bureaucratic slumber. The austere man of 67 traveled incognito, eluding the Interpol and thumbing his nose at Mexico and Chile.Mr. Fujimori bought his way into South America, chartering a Bombardier Global Express series executive jet for US$450 million, according to Peruvian daily La Republica.
Citing Chilean aviation officials, La Republica said the plane, which has a range of 11,390 km (7,120 mi), flew 8,948 km (5,593 mi) over 9 hours and 45 minutes from Tokyo to Tijuana and another 8,779 km (5,487 mi) over 9 hours and 42 minutes to Santiago. The jet then went on to the South Pacific, according to its flight plan.
The jet’s tail number, N949GP, shows the plane is registered to Wilmington Trust Co., a financial services firm based in Delaware, which leased it to Leading Edge Aviation Services in Texas. But the jet’s passenger manifest, when it arrived in Tijuana, Mexico, reportedly did not list Mr. Fujimori, who stayed inside during the 55-minute stopover in the border town. Other reports have said the local Mexican officials knew he was on board but let him go because he was transiting. That seems unlikely, however, since the Interpol warrant would have required them to detain him regardless.
Even Japanese officials appeared uncertain which airport Mr. Fujimori used to leave Tokyo, suggesting his name was not on the list either when he left Japan. The only three passengers on the manifest were Jorge BÃ©jar, Arturo Makino and Katsutaka Nagato, according to El Mercurio.
Chilean officials were also caught off guard, according to police spokesman Jaime MÃ©ndez. The plane landed in Santiago on Sunday, 6 November. The Chilean government had no prior knowledge of his arrival, he told Santiago daily El Mercurio. An inexperienced immigration officer, apparently baffled by the unannounced arrival of a former head of state, mistakenly stamped him without notifying his superiors, Mr. MÃ©ndez said. That officer, who has been suspended, looked at a database 15 minutes later only to learn that Interpol had red-flagged Mr. Fujimori.
He was detained Monday at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Santiago on Peru’s request for extradition. His first request for a probationary release has been denied.
Chile and Mexico became victims of Mr. Fujimori’s carefully executed plan to rob them of their right to refuse entry to South America’s notorious fugitive. To Mexican President Vicente Fox, the revelation is an embarrassment. Either the authorities at the airport were slackers and did not check the plane or they were paid off. When Mr. Fujimori was indicted on nearly two dozen counts of human rights abuses, embezzlement, political assassination and other charges, Mexico was among the first to promise his extradition.
As for Chile, Mr. Fujimori picked the perfect country to launch his re-election campaign. Chile’s judicial reform includes streamlining the extradition process, which used to require a separate investigation by a judge and a higher standard of proof. Plus, Chile has been kind to former heads of states, including ailing ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet and the late Erich Honecker, the former leader of East Germany.