LIMA – Peru’s president has pardoned his ailing predecessor Alberto Fujimori from serving a 25-year sentence for crimes against humanity and corruption.
In a written statement late Sunday, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said that he decided to release Fujimori, 79, for “humanitarian reasons” as he has “a progressive, degenerative and incurable disease.”
On Saturday Fujimori had been rushed to the hospital with a sharp drop in blood pressure and heart arrhythmia.
Human rights activists protested the pardon, which cannot be appealed.
The Christmas Eve pardon was also met with street protests and condemnation from some lawmakers, who questioned whether there was a political deal behind what current President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s office described as a humanitarian gesture.
Peruvian law provides that no person convicted of murder or kidnapping can receive a presidential pardon except in the case of a terminal illness. Three previous requests from Fujimori for pardons since 2013 were rejected after doctors said he did not suffer from incurable illness or severe mental disorder
At least two ministers in Kuczynski’s cabinet who objected to the pardon told him they wanted to resign.
Kuczynski’s pardon of Fujimori comes less than a week after the current president survived an impeachment hearing stemming from a corruption scandal that has swept Latin America.
Critics of Kuczynski’s decision to pardon Fujimori protested at Plaza San Martin, just a few blocks away from the presidential palace in Lima. The protesters clashed with police officers, who fired tear gas to disperse the crowd, the state-run Andina news agency reported.
Meanwhile, supporters of the pardoned ex-president gathered outside the hospital where Fujimori is currently being treated. They sang, danced and celebrated outside the hospital.
Fujimori, who served in 1990-2000, fled Peru in 2000 after a bribery scandal but was arrested in Chile in 2007 and extradited to his country.
The former president was convicted of the death of 25 people, embezzlement, and bribery.
Fujimori would have been in prison until age 93 if he had severed his full sentence.