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Peru auctions jailed ex-spy chief's luxury jewels
Bidders raise their numbered pallets during the governmental auction of 152 diverse jewels valued at more than a million dollars --most of them acquired with Peruvian State money by former presidential advisor Vladimiro Montesinos-- in Lima on August 18, 2014. Montesinos serves time at a maximum security prison on a military base for crimes against humanity committed during the Fujimori government (1990-2000). AFP PHOTO/CRIS BOURONCLE.

LIMA (AFP).- Peru began auctioning off the jewelry collection of jailed ex-spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos on Monday, looking to recoup more than $1 million of the public funds he was convicted of stealing.

Montesinos was the head of the intelligence services under former president Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000), who is today serving prison time, as well.

The jewelry collection, which will be auctioned off over the course of two days, includes 39 watches, 76 pairs of cufflinks, 18 rings and a slate of 18-carat gold objects ranging from key chains to tie clips, much of it encrusted with precious gems.

The centerpiece of the auction is a Swiss watch in white gold and platinum, encrusted with 400 diamonds and valued at $161,000, said the head of the government agency conducting the sale, Maria del Pilar Sosa.

"The fact these jewels are in gold and diamonds is a testament to the obscenity of the corruption that reigned under the Fujimori government," the former prosecutor in charge of fighting corruption, Julio Arbizu, told AFP.

The auction, which took 14 years to organize, is the first of its kind in Peru, he said.

Proceeds will go partly toward funding the country's anti-corruption institutions.

Montesinos, 69, headed the SIN intelligence services and wielded vast influence over the army, judiciary and media.

He was Fujimori's right-hand man during his 10-year government, converting the secret police into a political arm of the president's party and leading a merciless fight against Maoist rebel group the Shining Path.

In 2000, a video emerged showing Montesinos apparently buying off an opposition lawmaker, helping to bring about both his and Fujimori's downfall.

Captured in Venezuela after eight months on the run, Montesinos was sentenced to 20 years in prison for arms trafficking and 15 years for corruption.

He is currently serving his sentence in a maximum security prison on a military base near the capital, Lima.

Fujimori, 76, fled to Japan amid the scandal, but was arrested in Chile in 2005 and is now serving a 25-year sentence for corruption, abuse of office and human rights abuses.

© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse

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