SANTIAGO, Chile – Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori was flying to his home country under police custody Saturday, a day after the Chilean Supreme Court ordered his extradition on human rights and corruption charges.
A Peruvian police airplane sent to carry the 69-year-old former ruler departed just before 9:00 a.m. (1300 GMT) from the Santiago airport bound for the Peruvian capital of Lima.
Earlier, a white and blue Chilean police helicopter flew Fujimori to the airport from the suburban residence where he was under house arrest for months while awaiting the ruling on his extradition.
Chilean police officers transferred Fujimori to their Peruvian counterparts inside a vehicle on the airport tarmac. Before boarding, he was examined by a Peruvian doctor, officials said.
Peru wants to try Fujimori on corruption and human rights charges, including sanctioning the death-squad killings of 25 people.
Fujimori, who calls the charges politically motivated, said on the eve of his departure that while his government made mistakes, his conscience is clear.
"This does not mean that I've been tried, much less convicted. ... I hope that in Peru there exists the due process to clarify the accusations against me," he told the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio.
He noted that while the Chilean Supreme Court authorized his extradition, it significantly reduced the charges for which he can be tried in Peru. According to the extradition treaty between the two countries, he can only be tried on the charges for which the extradition was approved.
Fujimori also suggested that he may seek to return to politics, saying, "I still have a majority support from of a very popular political current.
"I assure you that there will be a political heir if I am not longer around," he added. "There will Fujimorismo for a long time. I guarantee that there will be some Fujimori in the next presidential race."
Fujimori was highly popular in the early years of his administration, largely crushing a violent guerrilla movement, overseeing a flourishing economy and building schools and health clinics in rural areas that benefited the poor. But an increasing drift toward authoritarianism and evidence of corruption turned many Peruvians against him.
After his 10-year government collapsed amid a corruption scandal in 2000, Fujimori spent five years in exile in Japan, the homeland of his parents, where he was protected from extradition by his double nationality.
He stunned followers and foes alike when he landed in a small plane in Chile in November 2005 and revealed his ambition to run for president in the 2006 elections, even though Peru's Congress had banned him from seeking public office until 2011.
He retains a large following in Peru, where his daughter Keiko was elected last year to Congress with 600,000 votes -- by far the most of any legislator.
The human rights cases against Fujimori accepted by the Chilean court include the 1993 death-squad slayings of nine students and a professor at La Cantuta University, as well as the 1991 killings of 15 people in Barrios Altos, a working-class neighborhood of Lima.
The corruption charges involve alleged payoffs to lawmakers and news media, illegal phone tapping and misuse of US$15 million (euro11 million) in government funds.
Peruvian prosecutors are seeking 30 years in prison for Fujimori for each human rights charge and the corruption charges carry 10-year sentences. But prison terms run concurrently under Peruvian law.