Peru’s former President Alberto Fujimori was convicted of human rights abuses and sentenced to 25 years in prison after a 15-month trial in Lima.
Fujimori, 70, was found guilty on four charges involving orders for two massacres of 25 people and the kidnappings of a journalist and a businessman while he served a president from 1990 to 2000. Fujimori was already sentenced in December 2007 to six years in a separate abuse of power case.
The former president pleaded not guilty to all the counts and testified he had no knowledge of paramilitary death squads’ activities that led to the case against him. His lawyer, Cesar Nakazaki, said he’ll appeal the ruling.
The trial, which began in December 2007, may have implications for other former presidents sought by their countries, including Ecuador’s Abdala Bucaram and Bolivia’s Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, said John Walsh, an analyst with the Washington Office on Latin America, a Washington-based research group.
“It will send an important signal to leaders in the region,” Walsh said in a telephone interview. “It will help the region take stock of the fact no one is above the law.”
Several hundred supporters of Fujimori, wearing orange shirts and waving banners, gathered outside the police headquarters where the ex-president was tried by the penal division of Peru’s Supreme Court. His daughter Keiko Fujimori, a congresswoman and candidate for the 2011 presidential elections, has said she would pardon her father if elected.
The son of Japanese immigrants, Fujimori fled to Japan in 2000 as his administration collapsed amid charges of corruption. Japan recognized him as a citizen and rejected Peru’s extradition requests.
In November 2005, Fujimori returned from exile to Chile, vowing to stage a political comeback ahead of presidential elections in Peru, where polls showed he was the nation’s most popular politician. Instead, he was arrested by Chilean police within hours of his arrival and extradited in 2007.
Even as he fled under suspicion of financial and human rights abuses, Fujimori retained a following in Peru for his economic and security successes.
He cut the inflation rate from 7,650 percent in 1990 to 3.5 percent in 1999, according to Peru’s National Statistics Institute, by eliminating subsidies and price controls, floating the currency and selling off money-losing state companies in the early 1990s.
He also crushed the insurgency of the Shining Path, a Maoist guerrilla group that controlled much of the countryside when he became president and was moving its campaign of car bombs and assassinations into Lima. The war sparked by the group, founded in 1970 with the aim of transforming the political system in Peru into a communist proletarian regime, left about 69,000 people dead, according to a government commission.
To contact the reporter for this story: Alex Emery in Lima at firstname.lastname@example.org Bloomberg