Latin America & Caribbean

Peru to auction ex-spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos' jewels

The Peruvian government says it will auction gold watches and other jewellery seized from ex-intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos.

He is serving a long jail sentence for corruption and human rights abuses.

The authorities say they expect to raise at least $1m (£600,000) from the sale of 152 items next month.

Montesinos, 69, fled Peru in 2000, amid a corruption scandal that led to the fall of President Alberto Fujimori, but was captured a year later.

The jewellery on sale includes diamond-encrusted cufflinks and gold rings.

"The money will be used to tackle organised crime in Peru," said the head of the government's commission for confiscated assets, Maria del Pilar Sosa San Miguel.

The auction will take place on 18 and 19 August at the Justice and Human Rights Ministry building in the capital, Lima.

Montesinos' parents were communists who named him after the Soviet leader, Vladimir Lenin
This Corum gold watch with more than 300 embedded diamonds is the most valuable item
Dozens of cufflinks and gold rings were displayed to journalists in Lima
The VM initials are a recurrent feature in the former spy chief's jewels

"With this we will be able to close a chapter in our fight against corruption and, most importantly, use the assets in the interest of the state," Ms Sosa said.

The Andean nation was engulfed in a brutal internal conflict from 1980 to 2000.

In the fight against the left-wing Shining Path rebel group, thousands of innocent people were killed and tortured.

Montesinos was the de facto chief of police, appointed by Fujimori.

He is linked to the formation of the notorious anti-communist Grupo Colina death squad.

Montesinos fled to Panama in a yacht in September 2000 after he appeared in a leaked video trying to bribe a congressman. He was detained in Venezuela in 2001 and flown back to Peru.

After the scandal broke, the opposition gained control of Congress for the first time in eight years and dismissed Fujimori on grounds of "moral incapacity".

The former president is serving a 25-year prison sentence for human rights abuses and corruption during his 10-year mandate (1990-2000).

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