Alberto Fujimori, Peru’s divisive former president, released from jail | Peru #Alberto #Fujimori #Perus #divisive #president #released #jail #Peru

Peruvian former president Alberto Fujimori, who was serving a 25-year prison term for human rights abuses committed during his decade-long rule in the 1990s, has been released after a court restored a contentious 2017 pardon.

Local TV showed him leaving prison on the outskirts of Lima and getting into a car on Wednesday evening while a crowd of supporters and journalists pushed against the car carrying the ex-president as it tried to leave the premises.

Fujimori remains a highly divisive figure in Peru. His autocratic leadership in the 1990s left an enduring legacy. His supporters credit him with stamping out the Maoist Shining Path movement and putting the economy back on track after rampant hyperinflation. Many others believe he ruled as an iron-fisted dictator during his decade in power, which was marked by widespread human rights abuses and rampant corruption.

Peru’s constitutional court had ordered his immediate release on Tuesday, after ruling in favour of a humanitarian pardon granted to Fujimori on Christmas Eve in 2017 by then-president Pablo Kuczynski. However, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) asked for a delay to study the ruling. The international court, of which Peru is a signatory, has repeatedly told the country that Fujimori, 85, cannot be pardoned due to his conviction for human rights crimes.

The president of the IACHR, Ricardo Pérez Manrique, in a resolution asked for the delay of Fujimori’s release in order to “guarantee the right of access to justice” of the 25 people who were murdered in two massacres.

Supporters of former president Alberto Fujimori await outside of Penal Barbadillo for his release on Wednesday in Lima, Peru.
Supporters of former president Alberto Fujimori await outside of Penal Barbadillo for his release on Wednesday in Lima, Peru. Photograph: Getty Images

“We live in an orphanhood because we do not have institutions of any kind capable of defending us,” Gisela Ortiz, sister of one of the victims over whom Fujimori was convicted, told the Associated Press. “Peru gives the image of a country where the rights of victims are not guaranteed and where human rights issues have no importance.”

The UN high commissioner for human rights, Volker Türk, said on Wednesday the constitutional court’s order to release Fujimori “is a worrying setback”, adding that “any humanitarian release of those responsible for serious human rights violations must be in accordance with international law”.

Fujimori’s policies improved the country’s economy and pulled it out of a cycle of hyperinflation. But he also used the military to dissolve congress and rewrite the constitution as well as to crack down on guerrilla violence.

The first of the two massacres he is accused of plotting occurred in 1991 in a poverty-stricken Lima neighbourhood. Hooded soldiers fatally shot 15 residents, including an eight-year-old child, who had gathered at a party.

Then, in 1992, the clandestine military squad kidnapped and killed nine students and a professor from the Enrique Guzmán y Valle University. Forensic experts reported the victims were tortured and shot in the back of the head. Their bodies were burned and hidden in common graves.

The squad operated under the facade of an architecture firm and was financed by Fujimori’s government.

The accusations against Fujimori have led to years of legal wrangling. He resigned just as he was starting a third term and fled the country in disgrace after leaked videotapes showed his spy chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, bribing lawmakers. Fujimori went to Japan, his parents’ homeland, and sent in his resignation by fax.

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

With Associated Press and Reuters

#Alberto #Fujimori #Perus #divisive #president #released #jail #Peru

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