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Peru's Supreme Court Upholds Fujimori's 25-Year Sentence for Murders and Kidnappings PDF Print E-mail
Written by April Howard   
Wednesday, 06 January 2010 08:49

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On January 3, 2010, Peru’s Supreme Court upheld Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori's April 2007 conviction and 25-year sentence for aggravated homicide, aggravated kidnapping, severe injuries and forced disappearance of persons. Fujimori was president of Peru from 1990 until 2000 during a period of civil unrest, and waged a "dirty war" against a Maoist guerrilla group called the Shining Path, and any and all Peruvians suspected of sympathizing with them.

The recent ruling addressed several crimes, including the killings of suspected Shining Path guerillas which took place in Barrios Altos (1991), where 15 people were shot to death and 4 others were seriously injured by a clandestine military death squad, and in La Cantuta, where nine students and a university professor were tortured and murdered, and their bodies destroyed and disappeared in sand dunes outside Lima (1992). Also in 1992, secret police kidnapped journalist Gustavo Gorriti and businessman Samuel Dyer and held both in the basement of the Army Intelligence unit during a so-called auto-coup. Though a paramilitary death squad called the Colina group carried out the killings and kidnappings, Fujimori was convicted for knowing of and authorizing the action through his spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos.

When Fujimori's administration collapsed under corruption charges in 2000, he escaped to Japan, the country of his parents. He was able to avoid extradition for most of the decade due to the Japanese government's recognition of his citizenship. It was not until he took a trip to Chile in 2005 that he was put under house arrest detained and extradited to Peru in 2006.

In April of 2007, after a trial lasting 15 months, the Special Penal Court, led by Supreme Judge César San Martín, convicted Fujimori of the charge, which he denied, of being the "mediate author of the crimes of qualified homicide and grave injuries," and sentenced him to 25 years in prison.  His historic conviction marked "the first time a democratically elected Latin American leader was found guilty of human rights abuses in his own country."

The 71 year-old Fujimori is already serving three other prison sentences at the same time: a six year sentence for abuse of power from 2007, seven and a half years for paying Montesinos $15m of state money, and for phone tapping and widespread bribery of members of the press, business sector and political opponents.

In November of 2009, Fujimori's lawyer, Cesar Nakazaki requested the revocation of the human rights abuse sentence and the annulment of the conviction for the La Cantuta kidnappings. Even though a law enacted in 2006 states that a presidential pardon or amnesty cannot be granted to those convicted of kidnapping (Law 28760). Nakazaki argued that there was insufficient evidence find Fujimori guilty of ordering the abductions.

The sentence was (R.N. Nº 19-01-2009-A.V ) ratified by the First Penal Transitory Hall of the Peruvian Supreme Court of Justice, led by Judge of the Supreme Tribunal Duberli Rodriguez, as well as by judges Julio Biaggi, Elvia Barros, Roberto Barandiaran and Jose Neyra. The court unanimously upheld the murder conviction and the 25-year sentence. The kidnapping charges were ratified by a majority vote, in which Justice Julio Enrique Biaggi upheld the fines and damage, but dissented on the charges of aggravated kidnapping rather than simple kidnapping. The sentence also ratified the qualification of the massacres as crimes against humanity.

Fujimori's prison term includes his time in Chile in custody and under house arrest from 2005 until 2006, making his sentence effectively until Feb.10, 2032. He is not permitted a pardon, but after serving 19 years (3/4 of his sentence), he would be allowed, at age 90, to shorten his sentence by one day for every 7 days of prison work he completes. He is currently being held in the north of Lima at the special operations unit of the National Police.

Judges also ordered Fujimori to pay 62,400 soles (22,285 U.S. dollars) each to Marcelino Marcos Pablo Meza and Carmen Juana Marinos Figueroa, and to 21 other relatives of the victims.

Congresswoman Keiko Fujimori, Fujimori's daughter, said a writ of habeus corpus would be presented to the Court. However, the court's most recent decision makes a future pardon on grounds of age or health unlikely.

Nakazaki said that they will continue to "fight for the nullification of the sentence" and that "if Fujimori is to have justice, that justice must be found at another Judicial Power or at Constitutional Courtl level." However, on January 5, Constitutional Court president Juan Vergara, stated that a Supreme Court decision cannot be changed the Constitutional Court.

 

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