Peru’s ex-president Fujimori freed after 16 years in prison for human rights abuses
LIMA — Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, who was serving a 25-year prison term for human rights abuses during his decade-long rule in the 1990s, was released on Wednesday evening after a court restored a contentious 2017 pardon.
The country’s highest court on Tuesday ruled in favor of an appeal to restore the pardon for Fujimori, 85, on humanitarian grounds, despite criticisms from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (Inter-American Court) and victims’ families.
Fujimori served around 16 years after being extradited from Chile in 2007.
He was filmed leaving the prison and getting into a car on a live local TV feed, shortly after Peru’s state-run national penitentiary institute ordered Fujimori’s “immediate release.”
Local TV showed a crowd of supporters and journalists pushing against the car carrying the ex-president as it tried to leave the prison’s premises on the outskirts of Lima.
“It was time for this injustice against Fujimori to end, thanks to him our country is on its feet,” said Catalina Ponce, Fujimori supporter waiting outside the prison, earlier in the day.
Supporters of Fujimori believe he saved Peru from terrorism and economic collapse.
Critics, however, say he abused democracy and committed atrocities during his government’s battle against the Shining Path guerrillas.
Fujimori was convicted in 2009 of ordering the massacre of 25 people in 1991 and 1992 while his government fought the Shining Path guerrillas, but received a pardon on Christmas Eve in 2017 from former President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
The pardon had been repeatedly annulled or suspended by lower courts after pressure from the Inter-American Court and victims’ families, but Peru’s constitutional court restored the pardon earlier this week.
Shortly after the order, the president of the Inter-American Court had asked Peru to stop the pardon until it had “all the necessary elements” to analyze whether conditions were met.
Fujimori’s release comes as approval for the government of President Dina Boluarte has sunk into single-digits and to its lowest level in the year of office since the ouster of her predecessor.
Boluarte is also facing a constitutional complaint by the country’s attorney general for dozens of deaths that took place during anti-government protests after she took office.