Trial of ex-Peruvian leader enters home stretch

LIMA, Peru (AP) - The chief prosecutor in Alberto Fujimori's murder and kidnapping trial on Monday called Peru's former president the intellectual author of two massacres by military death squads in the early 1990s.

In closing statements, chief prosecutor Jose Pelaez said Fujimori set the ruthless policies for covert operations against the Maoist Shining Path guerrillas and did not attempt in good faith to prevent two massacres by a squadron of military intelligence agents known as the Colina group.

"He was in a position to prevent this criminal organization's illegal activities, but he didn't do it because as commander-in-chief of the armed forces he authorized the policy that allowed the group to eliminate" rebel collaborators, Pelaez said Monday.

The 70-year-old Fujimori denies he had knowledge of the death squad's existence and says he never approved a dirty war against leftist rebels.

He is facing up to 30 years in prison for authorizing the death squad killings at La Cantuta University in 1992, and another massacre of 15 people at a Lima tenement barbecue in 1991. He also is charged with ordering the kidnapping of a prominent journalist and a businessman, who were interrogated and released.

No witness or evidence presented during the trial have directly tied Fujimori to the death squad.

Next up in the trial are closing statements by lawyers for the victims and then the defense.

The Shining Path guerrillas nearly brought the government to its knees in the 1980s and early 1990s, but faded after the capture of their leader, Abimael Guzman, in 1992. Nearly 70,000 people were killed in the conflict.

Fujimori's poor health has slowed the pace of the trial, halted twice to allow doctors to remove a cancerous lesion from Fujimori's tongue and a benign cyst from his pancreas.