June 4, 2008 / 7:49 PM / 11 years ago

Peru's Fujimori to undergo surgery, trial suspended

LIMA, June 4 (Reuters) - The human rights trial of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori was suspended on Wednesday so doctors can operate on a lesion inside Fujimori’s mouth and determine whether the growth could become cancerous.

Court-appointed doctors have said Fujimori, 69, has leukoplakia, which can develop because of irritation and appear as white patches inside the mouth and on the tongue. Leukoplakia can be cancerous, although this is rare.

The operation is scheduled for Thursday, after which Fujimori will have about five days to rest before his trial resumes.

"We want to make things easy and create a mood of calmness so that the defendant can be properly moved and have all the security and comforts his condition requires," Judge Cesar San Martin said in televised courtroom remarks.

"The (next) hearing will take place on Wednesday the 11th," he said, adding that Vladimiro Montesinos, Peru’s former intelligence chief now in prison for corruption and arms trafficking, will be called to testify soon.

Fujimori, who governed Peru from 1990 to 2000, is widely credited with ending a bloody war between the government and leftist insurgents that left some 70,000 people dead or missing.

But rights activists say the former president went too far in his efforts to stamp out terrorism.

Fujimori, the son of Japanese immigrants, fled to Japan, where he lived for five years, before returning to South America and being extradited to Peru. He has been on trial for about six months, charged with ordering a military death squad to carry out two massacres in which 25 people were killed.

If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison. (Reporting by Maria Luisa Palomino; Writing by Dana Ford; Editing by Hilary Burke)

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