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Fujimori convicted again

Alberto Fujimori has been sentenced to 25 years' gaol for 'human rights crimes'.

[photo: AFP]The former President of Peru was yesterday found guilty of ordering 2 massacres of civilians in 1991 and 1992, during the 'dirty war' with violent Maoist rebel movement Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) that saw more than 70,000 Peruvians disappeared or killed.

A military 'death squad' killed 25 suspected Maoist sympathisers, and was congratulated by Fujimori afterwards.  Reports Al Jazeera:

On November 3, 1991, a group of armed and masked soldiers burst into a party in the Lima suburb of Barrios Altos, killing 15 people, including an eight-year-old boy.

Several months later, nine university students and their professor [from La Cantuta University] were rounded up by the same 'La Colina' squad, taken to a deserted area of the city and executed with shots to the back of the head.

Fujimori is also charged in relation to the the kidnapping of a Peruvian journalist [Gustavo Gorriti] working for a Spanish newspaper and a businessman [Samuel Dyer Coriat], both critics of his government.

Human Rights Watch says these abuses were "part of a broad, systematic policy of executions and forced disappearances that [Fujimori] ordered and carried out through intelligence services."

The chief judge at his 16-month trial in a special court in Lima said Fujimori had established a 'parallel counterinsurgency organisation to terrorise Peru.'

Fujimori at his latest trial [photo: Rafael Cornejo]Known in Peru as 'Fuji' or 'the Chinaman', though actually of Japanese descent, Fujimori was elected President of Peru in 1990.  In 1992, he dissolved the Peruvian congress and courts and thereafter led a military dictatorship.  As his government collapsed amid scandal in 2000, he fled to Japan from whence he resigned by fax.

Japan refused to extradite him, and he might have eluded justice forever has he not flown to Chile in 2005 — to launch a new Presidential campaign in Peru, where he was still popular — and been arrested.  He has been facing extradition proceedings and multiple criminal charges since.

Hundreds of supporters demonstrated outside the courtroom yesterday.  Fujimori's  daughter, 34-year old politician Keiko, is expected to run for president in 2011.  "If she wins — as early polls suggest she might — she has vowed to pardon her father."

Fujimori, aged 70, is already serving a 6-year gaol term for abuse of power in an unrelated case.  He maintains his innocence and says he will appeal the new verdict.  Yet further charges are pending.

Yesterday's unanimous verdict may have implications for other former leaders sought by their countries, says Washington-based analyst John Walsh, including Ecuador’s Abdalá Bucaram and Bolivia’s Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, both contemporaries of Fujimori.

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