Demonstrators hold a march in favor of the pardon of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori in Lima, on Friday. - AFP
Hundreds of Peruvians demonstrated in Lima Friday in support of the controversial pardon given to former strongman Alberto Fujimori.
Waving a massive Peruvian flag and holding photos of Fujimori and President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who granted the pardon last month, supporters of the ex-president marched through the streets of the Peruvian capital, yelling chants including friend, Peru is with you! and terrorism never again! The 79-year-old Fujimori was serving a 25-year sentence for human rights abuses committed during his time in office from 1990 to 2000.
Fujimori earned respect from many Peruvians for his ruthless and unflinching campaign to defeat leftist Shining Path guerrillas during his presidency. The pardon came just days after his son Kenji and other Fujimorist lawmakers abstained from voting on Kuczynski's impeachment in what was seen by many as a backroom deal to save the president from corruption charges.
Kuczynski who defeated Fujimori's daughter Keiko for the presidency in 2016 --said he had pardoned the ex-president for humanitarian reasons, reneging on an election pledge never to do so.
On Thursday thousands of Peruvians took to the streets nationwide demanding Kucynski step down over the divisive move. Relatives of victims of those killed under Fujimori's rule are appealing the pardon to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which sits in Costa Rica and will hear their case on February 2.
Fujimori is a deeply divisive figure in Peru, respected by some and reviled by others for his government's crackdown on two insurgencies during his tenure from 1990-2000. An estimated 69,000 people died in the conflict between left-wing insurgents and Fujimori's authoritarian government.
In 2007, he was sentenced to six years in jail for bribery and abuse of power. Two years later he was sentenced to another 25 years in prison for human rights abuses committed during his time in office. He was convicted of authorizing killings carried out by death squads.
Fujimori, who has low blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat, had been moved from jail to hospital several days before he was pardoned. This is the fourth time thousands of Peruvians marched to show their contempt for what they said was political collusion at the top. The threat of impeachment stemmed from accusations the president.
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