Thursday 13 December 2018

Former Peruvian president released from clinic after pardon

Former President Alberto Fujimori is wheeled out the hospital he was interned, in Lima, Peru. (AP Photo/Miguel Paredes)
Former President Alberto Fujimori is wheeled out the hospital he was interned, in Lima, Peru. (AP Photo/Miguel Paredes)

Former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori has been released from the clinic where he has been receiving treatment since leaving jail following his controversial pardon from a 25-year sentence.

The 79-year-old former strongman was seen leaving the clinic in Peru's capital on Thursday evening in a wheelchair with family.

President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski announced on Christmas Eve that he had decided to free Fujimori for "humanitarian reasons."

Mr Fujimori was serving a 25-year sentence for human rights abuses, corruption and the sanctioning of death squads.

Dressed in jeans and a blue polo shirt, Mr Fujimori waved to a crowd of supporters gathered outside the clinic before entering a black SUV.

"We are very happy to welcome our father in this new chapter of life!" daughter Keiko Fujimori posted on Twitter along with a photo featuring the family.

The pardon sent thousands of Peruvians into the streets in protest and drew international condemnation.

United Nations human rights experts called Mr Fujimori's pardon an appalling "slap in the face" to the victims of human rights abuses that undermined the work of Peru's judiciary.

The pardon came three days after Mr Kuczynski narrowly escaped impeachment following a vote in which 10 members of Mr Fujimori's party unexpectedly abstained.

Polls show a majority of Peruvians believe a behind-the-scene deal was struck between Mr Kuczynski and Mr Fujimori's politician son.

Mr Kuczynski's allies have denied any such quid pro quo took place.

Mr Fujimori was convicted in 2009 for his role in the killings of 25 people, including an eight-year-old boy, during his decade-long rule.

He was also later found guilty of having had knowledge of the existence of death squads financed with public money that killed civilians accused of being Shining Path members.

Some Peruvians credit him with stabilizing the economy and defeating the country's Maoist guerrillas while others condemn him for permitting widespread human rights violations.

Mr Fujimori apologized to Peruvians from his hospital bed following his release.

"I have disappointed some compatriots," he said. "I ask them for forgiveness with all my heart."

Mr Fujimori's pardon and Mr Kuczynski's near impeachment have thrown the nation with one of Latin America's fastest-growing economies into a new period of uncertainty.

Mr Kuczynski was already deeply unpopular before an opposition-led investigation revealed his private consulting firm had accepted 782,000 dollars (£576,000) in payments from the Brazilian construction company at the centre of the region's largest corruption scandal.

The payments were made when Mr Kuczynski was a high-ranking minister over a decade ago.

The former Wall Street banker repeatedly denied having had any knowledge of the transactions.

Several key members of Mr Kuczynski's government have resigned since the vote.

Mr Fujimori had requested a pardon since 2013, but authorities said he did not suffer from any grave, incurable illness.

That changed on Christmas Eve when Mr Kuczynski announced he was freeing Mr Fujimori for "humanitarian reasons" after doctors determined he suffered from incurable and degenerative problems. No details have been provided on exactly what condition Mr Fujimori is facing.

Peruvian law says that no person convicted of murder or kidnapping can receive a presidential pardon except in the case of a terminal illness.

AP

Press Association

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