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Human rights tribunal orders Peru not to release imprisoned ex-president

LIMA, Peru — The Inter-American Court of Human Rights on Friday ordered Peru to “refrain” from releasing imprisoned former president Alberto Fujimori despite a ruling by the South American country’s Constitutional Court to free him.

The regional human rights court said in a resolution published on its website that “the sentence issued by the Constitutional Court on March 17, 2022, which restores the effects of the pardon in favor of Alberto Fujimori, has not not met certain conditions”.

Special Prosecutor Carlos Reaño told The Associated Press that authorities will keep 83-year-old Fujimori in custody at the request of the regional court. Fujimori is held in an exclusive prison where he is the only prisoner.

Supporters of Fujimori had gathered outside the prison in hopes of seeing his release, while those opposing his release demonstrated in downtown Lima.

In 2009, Fujimori was sentenced to 25 years in prison for being the intellectual author of 25 murders perpetrated by an underground military squad during two massacres that occurred during his tenure (1990-2000). The military killed with impunity and with the support of its leadership as part of the fight against the Shining Path terrorist group.

One of the massacres took place in an area called Barrios Altos – where 15 neighbors were killed at a party, including a child – and the other in La Cantuta, a university that trains teachers, in which nine students and a teacher died.

In addition to the 25-year sentence, the former president is convicted in three other corruption cases for which he owes 13.6 million dollars.

On Christmas Eve 2017, then-President Pablo Kuczynski granted Fujimori a humanitarian pardon in exchange for support for his weak government from lawmakers close to the former president. But the country’s Supreme Court overturned it in 2018 and ordered the ex-strongman to return to prison to serve his sentence for human rights abuses.

The mid-March Constitutional Court ruling reinstated the humanitarian pardon, but fearing he might be freed, the regional human rights court on March 30 asked Peru not to release Fujimori until he could not have looked into the matter. He heard from the families of the victims and representatives of the Peruvian state, before issuing Friday’s resolution, which cannot be appealed.

Fujimori, who ruled from 1990 to 2000, remains a polarizing figure in the Andean country. Some Peruvians praise him for defeating the Maoist Shining Path guerrilla movement, while others hate him for the human rights abuses committed under his government.

A former math professor, Fujimori was a political underdog when he emerged from obscurity to win the 1990 Peruvian presidential election over writer Mario Vargas Llosa.

Peru was ravaged by runaway inflation and guerrilla violence when he took office. He quickly rebuilt the economy with massive privatizations of state industries. Defeating the fanatical Shining Path rebels took longer, but his fight won him widespread support.

But his presidency crumbled just as dramatically as his rise to power.

After briefly shutting down Congress and embarking on a third term, Fujimori fled the country in disgrace in 2000 after leaked videos showed his chief spy, Vladimiro Montesinos, bribing lawmakers. Fujimori went to Japan, his parents’ homeland, and faxed in his resignation.

Five years later, he stunned supporters and enemies alike when he flew to neighboring Chile, where he was arrested and extradited to Peru. Fujimori’s goal was to run for president of Peru again in 2006, but instead he was put on trial.

His daughter, Keiko Fujimori, was a presidential candidate last year and has vowed to release him if elected. But Pedro Castillo beat her in a second round.


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