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Fujimori gets 25 years on conviction in human rights case

Found guilty of murder, kidnappings

By Joshua Partlow
Washington Post / April 8, 2009
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RIO DE JANEIRO - Former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori was convicted yesterday of human rights violations and sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in killings and kidnappings by security forces during his government's battle against leftist guerrillas in the 1990s.

The verdict, delivered by a three-judge panel on a police base outside Lima where Fujimori has been held throughout the trial, marked the first time that an elected head of state has been extradited back to his home country, tried, and convicted of human rights violations.

Fujimori, found guilty of murder, bodily harm, and two cases of kidnapping, showed little emotion while the verdict was read.

Throughout the morning proceedings he rarely looked up, scribbling in a notebook on the table in front of him.

The 25-year-sentence was near the upper range of the maximum 30 years in prison that Fujimori faced.

Fujimori, who could be in prison until February 2032, asked that the case be nullified. His appeal will move to the Supreme Court.

Maria McFarland, a lawyer and senior researcher with the Americas division of Human Rights Watch, said of the verdict: "I think that this was absolutely the right decision. It is well grounded in all the evidence."

"The quality of justice being dictated is high, which is good for Peru and the world," said McFarland, who was in Peru to observe the verdict.

About 2,000 police officers have been stationed around the police base to keep security as supporters and critics of Fujimori gathered to await the verdict. Peruvian media have reported that police are intervening to break up confrontations among the groups.

Fujimori, 70, argued in defiant outbursts during his 16-month trial that he never ordered the killings perpetrated by a death squad of the Army Intelligence Service known as the Colina Group and that he was rather a wartime president fighting to protect his people. "The Peru that I inherited was a disaster. It was a Peru that had to be rescued," he said in his closing statements.