Former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori (pictured) was found guilty of human rights abuses by a court in Lima on Tuesday for supporting the actions of a covert army death squad fighting leftist guerillas during his reign in the early 1990s.
AFP - Peruvian former president Alberto Fujimori, 70, was Tuesday declared guilty by a special court in Lima of human rights abuses committed during his reign in the early 1990s.
"The charges have been proved beyond all reasonable doubt," chief judge Cesar San Martin said, referring to accusations of murder by an army death squad and kidnapping.
The longest and costliest legal case in the country's history was viewed as a legal landmark, being the first time an elected Latin American head of state has faced trial in his own country for human rights violations.
Fujimori, 70, was accused of giving political cover and leadership to an army death squad active during the darkest days of Peru's ultimately successful fight against leftist guerrillas.
Two actions by the unit, called La Colina, were examined during the trial: one in November 1991 in which 15 people -- including an eight-year-old boy -- were shot dead at a barbecue in a Lima suburb; and the other in July 1992 where nine university students and their professor were abducted and shot.
The court also looked at the kidnapping cases of a businessman and a journalist in 1992.
Fujimori has repeatedly proclaimed his innocence and called his prosecution politically motivated.
Surveys showed, however, that the majority of the population believed him guilty.
His conviction could bring him a sentence of up to 30 years, effectively a life sentence for the ex-leader whose ill-health from hypertension, cancers and other problems dragged out the trial which started in December 2007.
His daughter, Keiko, a 34-year-old lawmaker, has said she was considering a 2011 presidential bid, and that if she won -- as polls suggested she could -- she said she would pardon her father.
Fujimori -- often called here "The Chinaman" for his Asian features derived from his Japanese parents -- still enjoys widespread respect for his iron-willed fight against the rebels, and for his neoliberal policies that put Peru on the path to prosperity.
Fujimori is already serving a six-year sentence for an unrelated, separate trial in which he was found guilty of abuse of power. He faces two future trials on other corruption charges.
Fujimori resigned in 2000 by fax from a Tokyo hotel, where he had fled to escape a corruption scandal. Japan considered Fujimori, whose parents were Japanese, to be a national and refused to extradite him.
But Fujimori traveled in 2005 to Chile, which granted an extradition request from Peru in 2007.
Around 10,000 police were deployed to ensure security on Tuesday, following a night of small rallies attended by pro- and anti-Fujimori demonstrators.
President Alan Garcia said ahead of the ruling that he expected a "fair and legal verdict" and called for calm among protestors and Fujimori supporters, many of whom gathered on city streets.
"If (Fujimori supporters) do not agree, they can appeal. This is what democracy offers, something that was not permitted under dictatorship," Garcia said.
Date created : 2009-04-07