Fujimori to face new trial from prison for bribing Peru’s "chicha" press with public funds

A new trial against Peru's former president Alberto Fujimori will begin on Oct. 17, this time for misappropriating almost $44 million from the Peruvian Armed Force budget. Fujimori is accused of using the money to bribe the owners of eight Peruvian tabloids of the yellow press, also known as “chicha” newspapers, and purchase their support during his third reelection campaign in 2000, the country’s anti-corruption prosecutor assistant, Joel Segura, told the news agency Andina.

The trial will take place in the Barbadillo prison, in Lima, where Fujimori has been serving since 2009 a 25-year sentence for corruption and crimes against humanity related to the massacres of La Cantuta (1992) and Barrios Altos (1991).

Segura explained that in 2005 the Peruvian justice sentenced 29 people, among them Vladimiro Montesinos, Fujimori's former advisor and chief of the then National Intelligence Service, former Minister of Defense José Villanueva and the owners of eight newspapers that discredited the opponents of Alberto Fujimori during the electoral campaign.

“There is a lot of information that connects Alberto Fujimori with this embezzlement. Many of those sentenced said that they communicated with him, or that they reported money deliveries,” he declared.

Weeks before, Fujimori’s lawyer, César Nakazaki, argued that according to the law, his client could only be sued if he was in good health. The prosecutor replied that Alberto Fujimori’s health condition was part of a strategy that failed during his appeal for clemency that was rejected and that “his last public communications from his cell are an evidence that the former president is in conditions to face this process.”

Prosecutors asked the Fourth Criminal Court of Execution for a sentence of eight years in prison for Alberto Fujimori and a payment of just over $1 million for civil damages. On the other hand, the anti-corruption prosecutor asked for a sentence of almost $72 million in damages, informed Andina.

The case of the “chicha newspapers” is one of the 180 judicial cases pending a sentence for the crimes committed by the network of corruption of the former presidential advisor Vladimiro Montesinos and Alberto Fujimori, president of Peru from 1990 to 2000.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.