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US Denies CIA Role in Peru Arms Trafficking Case

VOA News

Jan 25, 2004

Vladimiro Montesinos (L), former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori's right-hand man, at a judiciary courthouse in Lima, facing charges of brokering illegal arms shipments to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Latin America's largest insurgency. AFP Photo/ Jaime Razuri

The United States is denying any CIA link to an arms trafficking case involving Peru's former spy chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, and leftist Colombian rebels.

Montesinos - who is jailed in Peru for corruption - is currently on trial on charges he organized the sale of 10 thousand assault rifles to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia in 1999.

Prosecutors say the rifles were purchased from Jordan and then dropped by parachute to the rebels known as the FARC.

Earlier this week, a Peruvian anti-corruption prosecutor was quoted as saying Montesinos was believed to have had CIA support in delivering the weapons to the insurgents.

But, the U.S. Embassy in Lima said in a statement that the allegation is baseless.

The embassy response also comes after the judge in the Montesinos case approved a defense request to call CIA Director George Tenet to testify. The Reuters news agency says the request would be transmitted to the United States by diplomatic channels.

Reuters also says a state attorney in the case has asked for other CIA, embassy and FBI officials who were in Lima at the time to testify. There was no comment from Washington on whether they would do so.

Montesinos was spy chief to Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori. The president's 10-year term in office ended in 2000 amid a corruption scandal involving Montesinos. Mr. Fujimori fled to his parents' native Japan.

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