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Peru: Pardon Requested for Former President Alberto Fujimori

On Thursday night, September 27, 2012, the hashtags #noalindulto (no to the pardon) [es] and #sialindulto (yes to the pardon) [es] competed to gain visibility on Twitter. They referred to a possible humanitarian pardon for former President Alberto Fujimori due to his deteriorating health. But this story started well before - and not on social networks.

As Americas Quarterly explains in their blog, Fujimori is serving a 25-year sentence for human rights violations:

The sentence was handed down in 2009 after Fujimori was linked to the massacre of 25 people by the Grupo Colina paramilitary death squad in the early 1990s and the kidnapping of a businessman and a journalist in 1992.

On September 20, Kenji Fujimori, the former president's son and current congressman, was interviewed about the hospitalization of his father due to a hemorragic granuloma in the tongue, where he has had six previous surgeries. Kenji Fujimori stated [es] that he will not insist on the pardon: “because President Ollanta Humala has placed as the sole condition that my father must be dying”.

Keiko Fujimori, the former president's older daughter and former candidate to the presidency, stressed [es] the same thing the following day.

The next day, the Minister of Justice, Eda Rivas, indicated [es] that the matter of the pardon was not on the agenda, and referring [es] to the words said more than one year ago by the then President-elect Ollanta Humala: “nobody should die in prison and I think that a word to the wise is enough”, added that it was due to the fact that Fujimori's relatives hadn't presented any requests for a pardon.

On September 23, the President of Congress, Víctor Isla from the ruling party, went further in response to a statement by an interviewer who said that the Fijimori family had not requested the pardon because they think, based on previous presidential declarations, that it won't be given. He stated [es]: “I think that it is a wrong perception by Mrs and Mr Fujimori. The humanitarian issue does not mean that he must be dying”.

The next day, Vice-President Marisol Espinoza stressed [es] that the government cannot act on its own initiative regarding this matter. And on September 25, President Humala expressed [es] his surprise about this situation, which, according to him, could be the result of a political calculation by the Fujimori family.

Protest against the pardon for Fujimori, July 2011. Photo by Catherine Binet from The Advocacy Project on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Protest against the pardon for Fujimori, July 2011. Photo by Catherine Binet from The Advocacy Project on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

On September 26, Fujimori's lawyer, César Nakasaki, justified [es] the Fujimori family's position regarding the pardon, due to the precedents, and added that the former president had not asked him to request the pardon either. Finally, he indicated that the president is allowed to give a pardon on his own initiative.

On the other hand, Ronald Gamarra, who belongs to the National Coordinator for Human Rights (CNDDHH), argued [es] that Fujimori supporters are trying to victimize the former president with the pardon to achieve political gains. He added that in any case Fujimori can't access the pardon because in 2009 he was sentenced to 25 years in prison because of human rights violations.

On September 27, former presidential adviser Carlos Tapia caused controversy when he said [es] that granting the pardon could benefit President Humala politically, because “surely, there will be political gratitude” from the groups in favour of Fujimori and that these kind of “arrangements are set under the table”.

In the middle of this controversy, on September 28 it was reported [es] that former President Fujimori was taken back to his cell after a few days in a local private hospital, where his followers carried out vigils [es] for his health. That same day, Keiko Fujimori announced [es] that they had decided to request the pardon for their father on humanitarian grounds.

That profusion of opinions has also been present in blogs, where due to the characteristics of the medium, the opinions were much more open and unmasked. For example, Neoliberal Cusco in the blog with the same name declared [es]:

Los caviares y los progres sólo ven a Fujimori como un genocida y un ladrón. Para mi es mucho más que eso. [...] Para mi fue el jefe de un estado que actuó con firmeza y nos defendió de la insanía y agresión comunista, liderada por Abimael [Guzmán]. Gracias a él (y su gente) nos salvamos de ser Camboya, Cuba o Corea del Norte. Además, el informe de la CVR [Comisión de la verdad y reconciliación] es muy claro: MÁS GENTE murió durante los gobiernos de Alan y de Belaunde que durante los dos periodos de Fujimori. De hecho hubo excesos, pero en mi opinión fueron justificados. El único comunista bueno es el comunista muerto.

The rich Left and progressives just see Fujimori as a thief guilty of genocide. To me, he is much more than that [...]. To me he was the chief of a state who acted firmly and defended us from the evil and communist aggression headed by Abimel [Guzmán]. Thanks to him (and his people), we saved ourselves from being Cambodia, Cuba or North Korea. Moreover, the report by the the CVR [Truth and Reconciliation Commission] is very clear: MORE PEOPLE died during the Alan and Belaunde governments than during the Fujimori terms. There were in fact excesses, but in my opinion they were justified. The only good communist is the dead communist.

Similarly, the blogger from La Guadaña writes [es]:

Hay que reconocer que el chino sacó adelante y pacificó el país, entregándoselo al cholo sano y sagrado [refiriéndose al expresidente Alejandro Toledo], sin terrucos [terroristas] y con las cuentas en azul,

There is a need to recognize that [Fujimori] pushed the country forward and brought peace, giving the country to the sacred and healthy cholo [referring to former President Alejandro Toledo] without terrorists and with the accounts in order. [Note: Valentín Paniagua was the interim president after Fujimori was ousted by Congress in November 2000; Alejandro Toledo was president after Paniagua's short term. Furthermore, irregularities in the accounts of Fujimori's administration were later found.]

The blog Kausa Justa del Equipo de Incidencia en Derechos de Iprodes mentions [es] an interesting detail related to the sentence [es] that former President Fujimori is serving:

En 1995 Alberto Fujimori presentó el Proyecto de ley N° 2636/95-CCD que prohibió la concesión del indulto a los autores del delito de secuestro agravado. [...] La Ley 26478 fue publicada en el diario oficial El Peruano de fecha 14 de junio de 1995.

In 1995, Alberto Fujimori presented Bill Nº 2636/95-CCD which prohibited the concession of a pardon to authors of aggravated kidnapping. [...] The Law 26478 was published in official newspaper El Peruano on June 14, 1995.

It is important to note that the Law 28760 [es] subsequently modified the scope of Article 152 of the Criminal Code, the Article that refers to Law 26478, specifying clearly in its second article that the pardon does not proceed in case of kidnapping.

In this sense, it is also important to consider an article by Jo-Marie Burt published [es] last year in the blog Noticias Ser:

En términos legales, un indulto a Fujimori sería contrario tanto al derecho peruano como al derecho internacional. [...] En el caso de Fujimori, la sentencia de abril de 2009 dice expresamente que los crímenes por los cuales fue condenado —el homicidio calificado de 25 personas (15, entre ellos un niño de ocho años, de la masacre de Barrios Altos, y los 9 estudiantes y un profesor de la Universidad La Cantuta); el asalto agravado de 4 personas que quedaron gravemente heridas luego de esa masacre; y el secuestro agravado del periodista Gustavo Gorriti y del empresario Samuel Dyer— constituyen crímenes de lesa humanidad en el derecho internacional por tener un carácter sistemático y generalizado.

In legal terms, a pardon for Fujimori would be contrary to Peruvian Law and to International Law [...] In the case of Fujimori, the sentence of April 2009 indicates that the crimes for which he was convicted –the homicide of 25 people (15, including an eight-year-old child who was among them, in the massacre of Barrios Altos, and 9 students and a professor in La Cantuta University); the aggravated assault of four people who were seriously injured after that massacre; and the aggravated kidnapping of journalist Gustavo Gorriti and businessman Samuel Dyer– are crimes against humanity according to international law because of their systematic and generalized character.

The blog Ideeleradio summarizes [es] an interview with Carlos Rivera, Director of the Legal Area of the Institute of Legal Defense (IDL). Among other things, Rivera refers to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ recent decision [es] to annul the Supreme Court's controversial verdict, known as the Villa Stein verdict, which reduced sentences and eliminated the crimes against humanity sentence for members of the Colina Group:

Ellos tenían muchas expectativas con el fallo de Villa Stein y cuando se ha eliminado eso […] y ahora el camino que les queda es del indulto [¿El pedido del indulto es como el plan B que siguen ahora que se anuló la sentencia de Villa Stein?] No me queda ninguna [duda] que eso ha sido así, y lo que ratifica que el fallo Villa Stein tenía un objetivo clarísimo en ser como un instrumento o una palanca para la defensa de Fujimori

They had many expectations due to the Villa Stein verdict and now it was eliminated [...] and the only path they have left is the pardon [Is requesting the pardon plan B now that the Villa Stein verdict was annulled?] I have no doubts that this is the case, and it ratifies that the Villa Stein verdict had a clear objective to be like an instrument or a lever for Fujimori's defense

On the other hand, Carlos Santibañez, in the webpage The Fu****g Times, gives his opinion about this topic in an article called “Pardon or Insult?”:

Humala debería nombrar una junta proba de médicos que puedan examinar a Fujimori y determinar si realmente tiene una enfermedad terminal. Esto tiene que ser meramente técnico, y no como salida a un posible acorralamiento político. Es clarísimo que el Fujimorismo ha estado jugando con imágenes y videos que sensibilicen a la población sobre “el grave estado” de Fujimori. Una bien pensada campaña que apela a lo político, y trata de saltarse argumentos médicos y jurídicos. Hay que tener en cuenta que lo que se decida será precedente para otros presos… como Abimael Guzmán.

Humala should name a board of doctors who can examine Fujimori and determine if he really has a terminal illness. This has to be purely technical, and not as a possible way out political encirclement. It is very clear that Fujimorismo has been playing with pictures and videos that sensitize the population about Fujimori's “serious condition”. A well-thought campaign that appeals to political aspects and which tries to avoid medical and legal arguments. We have to consider that whatever is decided will be a precedent for other prisoners, like Abimael Guzmán.

In the following days the request for a pardon for former President Alberto Fujimori is expected to materialize. Then, all that is left is the presidential decision. And as declared [es] by the President of the Judicial System, César San Martín, “May God enlighten the President.”

Original post published in the personal blog [es] of Juan Arellano, on September 30, 2012.

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