Peru’s President Ollanta Humala turned down a request from the family of jailed former leader Alberto Fujimori to release him from prison.
Humala said in a televised news conference he took the decision today after a government commission found the 74-year-old Fujimori isn’t terminally ill.
Fujimori was jailed in 2009 for human rights violations by government-linked death squads committed during his 10-year rule that ended in 2000. Fujimori’s family sought his release on humanitarian grounds, citing his recurring tongue cancer, depression and weight loss.
The commission’s recommendations were “sensible, logical and respect truth and justice,” Humala said. “I also looked at the concept of remorse, particularly given the proven crimes are corruption and human rights violations.”
Fujimori is credited with laying the foundations of the South American nation’s economic boom by ending hyperinflation, luring foreign investment and defeating the Shining Path, a Maoist insurgency. Still, his heavy-handed methods were often controversial. In 1992, he closed Peru’s bicameral congress and replaced it with a unicameral parliament, and later rewrote the constitution.
Mario Vargas Llosa, the novelist and a presidential candidate defeated by Fujimori, has described the former president as a dictator who led the most corrupt government in Peru’s history. Fujimori fled to Japan after his government collapsed amid a bribery scandal in 2000.
Fujimori received a 25-year jail sentence in 2009 for ordering two massacres of civilians. He is also serving concurrent sentences for embezzlement and bribery.
Transparency International has ranked Fujimori among the 10 most corrupt leaders in recent history.
Humala defeated the former president’s daughter Keiko Fujimori in 2011 elections by 3 percentage points. Her Fuerza Popular party holds the largest number of seats in Congress after Humala’s Gana Peru party.
Keiko Fujimori vowed to free her father if elected president. During the election she apologized for his crimes and said she would seek to overturn his convictions via the courts. She formally requested the pardon in October.
“The request, the facts and the conditions don’t justify a humanitarian pardon,” said Justice Minister Daniel Figallo said in a televised news conference. Fujimori “isn’t terminally ill. Nor does he have a serious, incurable, degenerative illness.”