Peru's pardoned ex-president Fujimori still in hospital


Lima (AFP)

Peru's former president Alberto Fujimori remained in intensive care in a Lima hospital on Monday, a day after he was granted a pardon for his 25-year sentence for crimes against humanity.

Current President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski ordered the pardon on Sunday on humanitarian grounds for Fujimori and seven other prisoners.

He said the decision relied on a medical evaluation that Fujimori suffered a progressive and incurable illness and that conditions in prison "represent a grave risk to his life."

But the move came after Fujimori's son Kenji drained votes away from a parliamentary bid Thursday to impeach Kuczynski on suspicion of corruption, sparking speculation the pardon was political payback.

The pardon generated protests, more of which were expected on Monday.

The condition of Alberto Fujimori, 79, was "delicate" and "a decision will be made" based on how he responds to treatment at the Centenario Clinic, a doctor at the facility, Alejandro Aguinaga, told reporters.

He said there was no prospect of Fujimori leaving soon.

Fujimori was transferred from his cell to a clinic Saturday suffering from low blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat.

"He remains in intensive care. His condition is favorable but other tests are necessary," Aguinaga said.

He said the ex-president had already undergone scans of his brain and heart, and stated that the cardiac problem was accentuating "various degenerative pathologies."

- A brutal reign -

Kenji Fujimori, who is a lawmaker, posted an online video of his father in intensive care.

Alberto Fujimori has been hospitalized on several previous occasions, the last time in September, and has had heart, back and stomach trouble as well as several operations to remove cancerous growths from his tongue.

The former leader has spent more than a decade imprisoned for ruthlessly cracking down on political rivals and for ordering dozens of murders and overseeing other brutal tactics.

Despite his conviction for human rights abuses, however, Fujimori retains a level of popularity in Peru for having defeated leftwing guerillas and for stabilizing the economy after a period of crisis.

Those dueling feelings for the former president have come to the fore with the pardon.

Dozens of supporters gathered in front of the hospital looking after him, while later Monday groups of opponents were to hold demonstrations against him.

Fujimori, of Japanese descent, ruled Peru between 1990 and 2000. His reign quickly became autocratic after a 1992 internal coup in which he dissolved the legislature.

The pardon was Kuczynski's first major act after surviving the impeachment bid that was spearheaded by Kenji Fujimori's sister, Keiko, who is also a legislator and who narrowly lost the last presidential election.

Kuczynski, a former Wall Street Banker, was accused of lying to cover up $5 million in payments received from disgraced Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht.

He faces a struggle to influence Peru's opposition-dominated Congress, where his party has just 18 seats.