Secret video thrusts Peru spy chief into political scandal - again

LIMA, Peru (AP) - A storm of protests grew Friday demanding the resignation of President Alberto Fujimori's feared intelligence chief, hours after the release of a video purportedly showing him bribing an opposition congressman.

The opposition leader who released the video called for the arrest of spymaster Vladimiro Montesinos and for Fujimori's resignation. Montesinos runs a spy network as the de facto head of the national intelligence service.

''We're waiting for Vladimiro Montesinos to be captured and for a transition government that will call new general elections,'' Congressman Fernando Olivera said a day after releasing the video.

The 56-minute video, which had poor sound quality, showed congressman Alberto Kouri signing a document that apparently formalized his resignation from the opposition. Montesinos then handed Kouri what seemed to be a thick wad of bills.

The video plunged Peru into a fresh political scandal at a time that Fujimori has been working intensely to undo damage to his image abroad set off by charges of widespread fraud in his election to an unprecedented third term in May.

Its release cast a long shadow over promises by Fujimori to strengthen Peru's damaged democratic institutions.

Other opposition leaders added their voices to Olivera's call for an investigation into what has been dubbed in the press as the ''video of shame.'' Lima Mayor Alberto Andrade, who saw his presidential hopes destroyed by a government-financed smear campaign, demanded that Montesinos ''resign immediately.''

''It is a national embarrassment,'' said retired army general Daniel Mora. ''As a retired member of the armed forces, I would like to see them withdraw their support for this government.''

U.S. Ambassador John Hamilton also pressed for a ''rapid, complete and transparent investigation.''

''In light of yesterday's events we urge the Peruvian government to take clear and energetic measures to re-establish public trust in the intelligence services while the investigation is conducted,'' Hamilton said.

Montesinos, regarded by many Peruvians as having even greater power than Fujimori, has survived denunciations in the past, including charges that he took bribes from a drug lord and was behind the smear campaigns against Fujimori's opponents.

Attorney General Blanca Colan said Montesinos had asked her office to investigate the charges against him.

Twice in the past he has requested investigations when he was accused of wrongdoing and the attorney general's office has determined each time that there was insufficient evidence to bring charges.

''Each time Montesinos gets into trouble, he runs and hides under Colan's skirts,'' Andrade said. ''He knows Colan is going to shelve the case as she always has.''

Olivera and other members of his Independent Moralizing Front, including Fujimori's former wife, Susana Higuchi, showed the video late Thursday at a news conference. Olivera's party is the second-largest opposition group in Congress.

Although Fujimori's political alliance won only 52 seats in the 120-member Congress in May, a dozen opposition congressmen quickly joined the government's ranks, giving Fujimori majority control.

Alejandro Toledo, who pulled out of the May presidential runoff after charging Fujimori planned to rig the results, later accused the government of offering congressmen elected on his ticket $50,000 and upwards to join Fujimori's alliance.

Toledo accused Kouri specifically of having received $160,000 and Kouri sued Toledo for slander.

Shortly after the broadcast, Kouri said the meeting with Montesinos had been to discuss Plan Colombia, drug trafficking and other matters of national security.

Several hours later, he admitted having received $22,500 from Montesinos - but said it was a loan to buy a truck to distribute food to the poor.


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