On 27 August 2001, the Peruvian Congress declared unanimously that Alberto Fujimori was responsible for crimes against humanity and lifted his immunity. On 5 September 2001, the Chief Prosecutor of Peru, Nelly Calderón, laid charges against the former president for murder, causing serious bodily injury and “enforced disappearance.” Enforced disappearance is considered to be a crime against humanity under Peruvian law since 1998 (law 26926 of 21 February 1998.) The definition of crime against humanity as it appears in the Peruvian Criminal Code differs, however, from that prevailing in international law.
The indictment put forward the theory that the acts committed by the Colina Group were of such magnitude that they could only have been carried out under the control of the executive authority of the time. Moreover it underlined that members of this group who had been arrested had benefited from an amnesty granted by Congress under pressure from the former president.
On 13 September 2001, a judge of the Supreme Court, José Luis Lecaros transmitted to Interpol an international arrest warrant for Alberto Fujimori. The President of Peru, Alejandro Toledo subsequently requested the Japanese authorities to extradite Fujimori to Peru. The Japanese authorities, however, considered that Alberto Fujimoriwas a citizen of their country since both of his parents were born in Japan. By virtue of this fact, he was protected by Japanese law which forbids extradition of one of its citizens with a view to his being tried before a foreign criminal jurisdiction. Furthermore the Japanese government pointed out that no extradition agreement was in existence between the two countries concerned.
In autumn 2005, Fujimori made public his plans to return to Peru and run for the Peruvian presidency in April 2006 despite the fact that he had been banned from holding public office until 2010. As there is no direct flight connection from Japan to Peru, it was expected that the international arrest warrants against Fujimori might be activated in a transit country.
EXTRADITION FROM CHILE
On 7 November 2005 Fujimori was arrested in Chile at the request of the Peruvian government. In a move that took authorities by surprise, Fujimori had arrived there from Japan on his way to Peru where he intended to run for the presidency.
Even though Chile and Peru have had an extradition treaty for more than 70 years, it is not clear if arrest warrants issued by Interpol are legally binding on Chile.
A Chilean judge, Orlando Alvarez, charged with considering Peru's extradition request, ordered Fujimori's arrest while the matter was being decided. In the meantime, the Peruvian government sent a delegation to Chile in order to speed up Fujimori's extradition.
On 23 February 2006, the Supreme Court denied Fujimori's application for bail. On 18 May 2006, however, it was granted. Fujimori was released but prohibited from leaving the country.
On 20 November 2006, a Peruvian judge issued a new international arrest warrant against Fujimori. This new warrant was based on Fujimori's alleged role in the killing of 20 inmates of a high security prison in 1992.
Following a recommendation by the Chilean Chief Prosecutor to extradite Fujimori to Peru, he was placed under house arrest on 8 June 2007.
On 11 July 2007 a Chilean Supreme Court judge rejected the extradition of Fujimori, saying Peru failed to prove its former president was involved in death squads and corruption. Judge Orlando Alvarez said the evidence fell short and that some charges, particularly that of "illegal association," have no Chilean equivalent and therefore can't be used for extradition. As for the most serious charges, he said "it had not been proven that Mr. Fujimori had ordered or had even had the least knowledge beforehand of the killings."
On 13 July 2007 Peru appealed against the decision. In its ruling of 21 September 2007 the Supreme Court ordered Fujimori's extradition to Peru. This decision was final and no appeal could be made.
On 22 September 2007, Fujimori was extradited to Peru.
PROCEEDINGS IN PERU
On 4 October 2007 the head of a special three-judge panel of Peru's Supreme Court announced that the court would consolidate six separate charges against Fujimori into three "megatrials" and one other “ordinary” trial proceeding. If convicted, Fujimori risked up to 30 years in prison and a fine of $33 million.
The first trial began on 10 December 2007 and concerned two operations conducted by the unit called La Colina: one in November 1991 in which 15 people were shot dead at a barbecue in a Lima suburb; and the other in July 1992 where nine university students and their professor were abducted and shot at La Cantuta University. The court also considered the kidnapping cases of a businessman and a journalist in 1992.
Fujimori pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
On 12 December 2007 Fujimori was sentenced in an unrelated trial to 6 years imprisonment for abuse of authority during his presidency.
On 7 April 2009, Fujimori was declared guilty by a special court in Lima of human rights abuses, of murder by an army death squad and kidnapping. He was sentenced to 25 years, which is effectively a life sentence due to his ill-health.
Between July and October 2009, Fujimori faced trials for corruption charges as well as for illegal wiretapping and bribery. He was sentenced to seven and a half years and six years of prison, respectively, which he must serve concurrently with his 25-year sentence for human rights violations.
On 23 November 2009, the Supreme Court of Justice opened a three-day appeal hearing session for Fujimori’s 25-year prison sentence rendered in April 2009 for human rights violations. Fujimori’s defence attorney asked for the sentence to be revoked and to either acquit the former president or order a new trial with an “impartial court”. The Court must confirm whether the crimes committed by Fujimori amount to crimes against humanity and whether his charges for kidnapping should be considered aggravated, that is, involving cruel treatment, or simple.
The Court has 30 days to render its final decision to uphold or annul its sentence.
On 3 January 2010, the Supreme Court of Justice of Peru ratified the 25-year prison sentenced for Fujimori for human rights violations, in particular for the crimes of qualified homicide, grave injuries and aggravated kidnapping. The sentence expires on 20 February 2032 and although he can receive penitentiary benefits, he must serve a minimum of 18 years due to the types of crimes for which he was condemned. In addition, Fujimori cannot be reprieved, given presidential pardon, nor can his sentence be commuted since laws 26478 and 20760 prohibit it.
PETITION FOR PRESIDENTIAL PARDON
On 10 October 2012, Fujimori’s defence team submitted a petition for presidential pardon on humanitarian grounds. Laws 26478 and 20760 prevent those guilty of crimes against humanity and aggravated kidnappings of benefitting from pardon but these do not apply in cases calling for a humanitarian pardon.
The Commission for Presidential Pardons will examine the petition before it is submitted to Peru’s president. According to Article 31 of the Rules of the Commission for Presidential Pardons, pardon can be given when the person: a) has a terminal illness; b) has a serious – but not terminal – illness that is progressive, degenerative, incurable or irreversible; or c) has a chronic, irreversible and degenerative mental illness. Fujimori is suffering from cancer of the tongue, the severity of which will be ascertained by experts.
Numerous NGOs, charities and victims are strongly opposed to this petition. On 18 October 2012, the publication in the media and on social networks of a painting through which the ex-president asked for forgiveness brought further controversy. In the self-portrait, Fujimori, dressed as a countryman from the Andes, is seen lifting his arm, revealing the words “I’m sorry for what I was not able to do and for what I could not avoid”. This “apology” from Fujimori was very badly received by victims and seemed to resemble a media campaign pressuring Peru’s President Humala to pardon Fujimori.
Trial Watch would like to remind its users that any person charged by national or international authorities is presumed innocent until proven guilty.