February 24, 2002

Former Peruvian agent backs Fujimori's ex-wife on torture allegations

                 LIMA, Peru (AP) -- A former intelligence agent said that she saw disgraced
                 former President Alberto Fujimori's then-wife naked and cowering in a
                 basement cell at army intelligence headquarters in 1995.

                 The account came after Susana Higuchi, Fujimori's former wife, alleged that
                 intelligence agents tortured her more than 500 times during her former husband's
                 authoritarian government.

                 Higuchi, who separated from Fujimori in the mid-1990s after publicly criticizing his
                 government, said the torture occurred at army intelligence headquarters between
                 1992 and 2000.

                 Television images showed Higuchi displaying scars on her temples and the back of
                 her nec k, where she said agents of former spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos applied
                 electric shocks to her.

                 Leonor La Rosa, an ex-agent who returned to Peru last week from four years in
                 exile, said she saw Higuchi locked in a cell at army intelligence headquarters.

                 "She was totally nude. She wasn't saying anything. She was hiding her face and
                 crying," said La Rosa, who had been sent to bring Higuchi food.

                 "All I did was take off my jacket and give it to her so she could cover herself and
                 then I left," La Rosa said in comments broadcast Saturday on local television.

                 La Rosa, who is partially paralyzed, returned February 17 from exile in Sweden
                 after saying she was tortured for leaking alleged government plans to attack
                 opposition leaders.

                 Higuchi, now a congresswoman, divorced Fujimori in 1996. Two years before,
                 Fujimori stripped her of the title of first lady after she accused him of tolerating
                 widespread corruption in his administration.

                 Higuchi has alleged in the past that she was tortured by Montesinos' agents under
                 orders from Fujimori, but she never showed scars or had witnesses corroborate
                 her detention.

                 Higuchi visited Montesinos in July at the prison where he is being held on dozens of
                 charges ranging from narcotics trafficking to directing a paramilitary death squad.

                 Higuchi said the spymaster asked her forgiveness for what he had done to her. She
                 also said Montesinos told her Fujimori ordered that she be killed.

                 Fujimori was driven from office in November 2000 by a corruption scandal
                 involving Montesinos, who was arrested eight months later.

                 Fujimori denies any wrongdoing. He is in self-exile in his parents' native Japan,
                 where he is safe from extradition on charges of embezzlement and sanctioning the
                 paramilitary death squad.

                  Copyright 2002 The Associated Press.