LIMA, Peru — Peru’s president has granted a medical pardon to jailed former strongman Alberto Fujimori, who was serving a 25-year sentence for human rights abuses, corruption and the sanctioning of death squads.
President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, in a statement released Sunday, said he decided to free Fujimori for “humanitarian reasons” after doctors had determined the ex-leader suffers from incurable and degenerative problems.
The 79-year-old Fujimori, who governed from 1990 to 2000, is a polarizing figure in Peru. Some Peruvians laud him for defeating the Maoist Shining Path guerrilla movement; others criticize him for human rights violations carried out under his government.
His daughter, Keiko Fujimori, narrowly lost Peru’s last presidential election to Kuczynski, and her party dominates congress. Her party mounted an attempt this month to oust Kuczynski over business ties to the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, which is at the center of a huge corruption scandal, but the president survived the impeachment vote.
Critics of Fujimori again raised speculation that Kuczynski agreed to pardon the former leader in return for some opposition lawmakers not supporting his impeachment.
Fujimori filed a request seeking a medical pardon more than a year ago, citing deteriorating health. He has said on his Twitter account that he suffers from the heart condition arrhythmia, for which he has been hospitalized several times this year. He remained at a clinic Sunday night where he was taken from prison a day earlier after suffering a drop in blood pressure.
Keiko Fujimori and one of her brothers, Kenji, visited the clinic Sunday night. The brother later tweeted that their father would remain hospitalized a few days more.
Kuczynski’s statement said a medical board had evaluated Fujimori and determined that “he suffers from a progressive, degenerative and incurable disease and that prison conditions mean a serious risk to his life, health and well-being.”