Ailing Fujimori to ask Peru's Humala for pardon

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 22, 2011 3:29 PM
Ailing Fujimori to ask Peru's Humala for pardon

LIMA (Reuters) - Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, in prison for corruption and human rights crimes, is in poor health and will ask President Ollanta Humala for a pardon, his family and lawyer said on Thursday.

A so-called humanitarian pardon, which could only be granted after a series of medical and judicial reviews, might allow Humala to gain support in Congress from Fujimori's right-wing party and give the ruling Gana Peru party a working majority.

But a pardon would anger Peruvians on the left who tried for years to unseat Fujimori, rallied to put him on trial after he stepped down, and who remember Humala as the young army officer who stood up to Fujimori and publicly demanded he resign.

Fujimori's authoritarian government collapsed in 2000 after a decade in power. He was extradited to Peru from Chile in 2007 and later sentenced in a series of trials to 25 years in prison for theft and using death squads to crack down on insurgents.

Now 73, Fujimori has cancerous cells in his mouth and is depressed, his family and lawyer say. Critics say there are much sicker prisoners who don't get pardoned.

"Before we fought for his innocence. But in his current state of health we are fighting above all for his life," Fujimori's lawyer, Cesar Nakazaki, told Reuters.

Fujimori's daughter, Keiko Fujimori, lost this year's presidential election to Humala after a bitter campaign but this month she praised Humala for replacing his prime minister with Oscar Valdes, who was his instructor in the military.

Critics said Valdes will add a law-and-order bent to Humala's government.

"I think the pardon will be asked for in the coming weeks, not before Christmas," Keiko Fujimori said on local television TV.

A poll this month showed nearly two-thirds of Peruvians favor giving Fujimori a pardon if his health were shown to be deteriorating.

Humala on Thursday said he would not pre-judge a request for a pardon, but during the presidential campaign said he would not rule out granting one to Fujimori.

Fujimori was credited for slaying hyperinflation and opening Peru's economy, now one of the fastest-growing in Latin America, to trade and foreign investment. He also defeated the Maoist Shining Path insurgency, but his authoritarian style and widespread corruption turned Peruvians against him and he fled to Japan in 2000.

(Reporting by Marco Aquino and Terry Wade; Editing by Eric Walsh)