October 15, 2007 [LINK / comment]

Fujimori trial begins

A Peruvian judge questioned former president Alberto Fujimori, as the long-anticipated trial gets underway not long after he returned to Peru from Chile, via extradition. The issue of the blackmail videos compiled by Fujimori's former right-hand man, Vladimiro Montesinos, was at the main topic of interest. Dozens of top Peruvian politicians were implicated in some way, and the possibility that some videos remain unseen probably intimidates potential witnesses for the prosecution. The big question is whether Fujimori will be directly linked to the murder of students suspected of terrorist ties. "If convicted on these charges, the 69-year-old could face up to 30 years in prison." See BBC.

In Latin American countries, criminal proceedings differ greatly from the ones we are familiar with. Judges in Latin America play a much more active role in the courtroom compared to the Anglo-American system. The trial may be over within a month, some say, but it could easily drag on longer if the prosecutors so desire. It remains to be seen whether the prosecution will be truly impartial, or will be more a vengeful "witch hunt."