Peru: pressure on for Fujimori pardon

Peru's President Ollanta Humala is under growing pressure to decide whether to grant a "humanitarian" pardon to ex-dictator Alberto Fujimori. In recent days, a number of political opponents and even Lima Archbishop Cardinal Cipriani, a longtime Fujimori supporter, have called upon Humala to issue the pardon. Fujimori, 74, is serving a 25-year term for rights abuses and corruption. His family has requested clemency, citing poor health. Fujimori has undergone surgery several times in recent years to treat a tumor, although a medical report presented by a team of 12 commissioned specialists found no threat to his life. Former President Álan García, whose APRA party supports a pardon, called on Humala to "make a decision no or yes, but don't leave the issue in doubt." Justice Minister Eda Rivas, who is leading the pardon commission, responded, "I ask that you have patience." Ronald Gamarra, a prosecutor during Fujimori's landmark trials, charged that Cipriani "seems to be more Alberto Fujimori's attorney than the head of the Church in Peru." (Peruvian Times, April 2)

Prominent fujimorista ex-lawmaker Carlos Raffo also called for clemency, but accused the ex-dictator's daughter Keiko Fujimori of not being honest on the question of her father's health. "If Alberto Fujimori is so grave, then his children should come out of the cloest of Twitter and speak the language of facts," he said. (La Republica, April 6)

The ex-despot's son, Kenji Fujimori, taunted Humala in a tweet, saying it would be "cowardly to wash your hands [of the matter] in China," where the president is now on an official visit. "Whether it is the human or the executioner, you should say it in Peru."

Kenji Fujimori is himself at the center of a scandal, after more than 90 kilos of cocaine were discovered in a warehouse in the port of Callao run by a company he is tied to. Kenji, 33, initially claimed that he had sold his stake in Limasa, the storage company that runs the warehouse—but changed his tune after a company director said the politician was still a partner. "I am a minority shareholder," the younger Fujimori told local TV. "I have 21 percent of the shares, therefore I cannot take administrative decisions." He added that as a storage company, Limasa "has no criminal responsibility for the discovery of an illegal cargo."

But Rosa Mavila, an independent leftist lawmaker, called for an investigation, saying, "For too long there have existed rumours of legislators responding to the interests of drug-traffickers." Maritime Customs agents found the cocaine packed into machine rotors for industrial barbecue sets bound for Mexico's port of Manzanillo. Customs agents were alerted after cocaine in shipments originating at the Callao warehouse was discovered in Guatemala and Panama. (El Comercio, América Noticias, April 4; Perú.com, Perú21, March 30; The Independent, March 22)