Peruvian protesters demand 30 years jail time for Fujimori
March 14, 2009, 9:55 am TWN
LIMA -- Some 2,000 people marched through central Lima Thursday asking that former president Alberto Fujimori be given a 30-year jail sentence for crimes committed under his watch, one month before his trial is due to end.
“The aim of this protest march is to ask for justice and to condemn impunity,” Gisela Ortiz, a spokeswoman for the relatives of victims of two massacres attributed to Fujimori, told reporters.
Bearing signs saying “Fujimori Guilty” and “Fujimori Murderer,” the protesters marched to the Attorney General's office with a petition backing Attorney General Jose Pelaez' request that Fujimori be given a 30-year prison sentence.
Fujimori, 70, is accused of ordering two massacres that killed 25 people during his controversial decade in power that ended in 2000. Prosecutors also charge that the former president, who has Japanese roots, designed a “dirty war” strategy to combat the Maoist Shining Path insurgency.
The iron-willed former president, now in poor health, has been on trial since December 2007. He is already serving a six-year prison term for abuse of power in an unrelated case.
The trial is in its final phase and sentencing is expected around mid-April.
Fujimori late Thursday was taken to a cancer center after he complained of stomach pain and diarrhea. Doctors said he will stay in hospital for 24 hours to undergo medical examinations.
Fujimori's trial has been suspended several times due to the defendant's health needs. In May, Fujimori had a cancerous growth removed from his tongue, and in September a benign tumor was extracted from his pancreas.
According to a poll conducted in mid-January, 60 percent of Peruvians believe Fujimori was guilty of the charges, while 26 percent said he was innocent. A fourth of the respondents expected an unfair verdict.
Fujimori is the first democratic president in Latin America to be brought to trial for human rights violations.
He fled to Tokyo in 2000 amid a corruption scandal and resigned the presidency by fax from his hotel.
Japan considered Fujimori, whose parents were Japanese, to be a national and refused to extradite him. But Fujimori traveled in 2005 to Chile, which then later granted an extradition request from Peru to send him for trial.