Peru should not release jailed ex-President Fujimori, says Inter-American Court

FILE PHOTO: Former President of Peru Alberto Fujimori attends a trial as a witness at the navy base in Callao
FILE PHOTO: Former President of Peru Alberto Fujimori attends a trial as a witness at the navy base in Callao, Peru March 15, 2018. Picture taken through a window. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo/File Photo

March 31, 2022

By Marco Aquino

LIMA (Reuters) – The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) on Wednesday ruled that Peru should not release jailed former President Alberto Fujimori until further notice, according to a decision shared with Reuters by a human rights activist.

The decision says the IACHR “requests the Peruvian state…abstain” from freeing Fujimori until the court can further review the issue.

Peru’s top Constitutional Court ruled earlier this month that Fujimori, 83, who is serving a 25-year prison sentence for human rights violations, should have a controversial 2017 presidential pardon reinstated.

Fujimori was expected to leave prison this week, although Reuters has reported that human rights activists had petitioned the IACHR court in an attempt to overturn the local court decision.

The initial pardon was overturned in 2018 as a result of the IACHR’s involvement.

Peru is a member of the IACHR court and has in the past obeyed its rulings, which have the power to override any local order. Peru’s current government has yet to comment on the decision.

Gloria Cano, head of the legal department at human rights group Aprodeh, said the effects of the ruling should be immediate. Aprodeh was one of the organizations that challenged the reinstatement of Fujimori’s pardon with the IACHR and Cano shared the decision with Reuters.

“The IACHR Court’s provisional measure was foreseeable,” said Fujimori’s lawyer Cesar Nakazaki on Twitter.

Fujimori is a deeply polarizing figure in Peru, hailed by some for restoring economic stability and defeating the brutal Shining Path Maoist guerrilla group. But he was also condemned for his violent methods, including using death squads and sending the military to shut down Congress and the judiciary in 1992.

Fujimori remains in prison at a police station in Lima, where dozens of supporters remain outside almost every day awaiting his release.

The former president was convicted for having been the perpetrator of the massacre of 25 people in the Barrios Altos case in 1991 and the La Cantuta University case in 1992, while his government fought the Shining Path.

Last week, a judge approved a prosecutor’s request to prevent Fujimori from leaving the country for 18 months.

(Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Peter Frontini; Editing by Leslie Adler)