Minister of Defense supports humanitarian pardon for ex-president Fujimori

By October 12, 2017

The ongoing discussions over the likelihood of Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski issuing a humanitarian pardon to Former President Alberto Fujimori have taken a turn.

Peruvian Defence Minister Jorge Nieto announced this week that he was in favor of the move.

Alberto Fujimori, who served as President of Peru from 1990-2000, was sentenced in 2009 to 25 years in prison for human rights abuses. He was convicted of ordering a military death squad to carry out massacres that killed 25 people, during the time the country was battling guerillas. Under his rule as well, at least 300,000 people (mostly women) were forcibly sterilized in connection with a government program for family planning.

In 2007, Former President Fujimori was also sentenced to six years in prison for abuse of power – he was found guilty of removing sensitive video and audio tapes from an apartment belong to his former intelligence chief’s wife. 

Fujimori’s health, which has been an ongoing issue since the start of his trial, has sparked a recent debate in Peru since President Kuczynski publically said that he was considering granting Fujimori a humanitarian pardon based on an independent medical report.

“This is not a pardon, it is a medical pardon, that is exclusively determined by the opinion of top doctors who will see the state of health of Former President Fujimori, it is nothing more than that,” explained Kuczynski in La Nacion after he received an array of criticism from civil society groups in July. 

Defense Minister Nieto entered the debate by saying that he can not be against a humanitarian pardon. Interviewed by Canal N television earlier this week, Nieto said “If, in fact, the health of Mr. Alberto Fujimori is deteriorating at his age, how could Peruvians not agree with something that has to do with humanitarian action?”

The 79 year old ex-president has been hospitalized on three occasions for heart disease this year. He also suffers from hypertension, depression and a cancerous lesion on the tongue for which he has been operated on six times.

“I think that before the end of the year we can define this with professional opinion, we will follow the medical recommendation,” said President Kuczynski in La Nacion.

Nieto agrees that a possible pardon could be accepted by November. Kuczynski’s statement however was quickly criticized by Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa, who supported the president in his 2016 election campaign.

Other criticism towards the President’s talk on a possible humanitarian pardon for Fujimori has come from former anti-corruption attorney Luis Vargas Valdivia. He considers the move could be a political strategy by President Kuczynski to improve his presidential position. 

He stressed that, regardless of political issues, the decisions made by the head of state must not go beyond the framework of the law. According to Valdivia, the pardon should be given only in a case where Alberto Fujimori suffers from a terminal illness, otherwise the country would look “very poorly” before the international community.

Authentic reconciliation has also been discussed in relation to the possible pardon. Defense Minister Nieto said on Canal N that the state needs to respond to many pains it’s inflicted. “We deserve a genuine policy a reconciliation and to turn a page,” he said. 

The internal conflict left more than 69,000 dead between 1980 and 2000.