For the first time, Peru’s former president Alberto Fujimori made a clear public apology for his past crimes. He also thanked the current Peruvian president for granting him a pardon, though this didn’t come without protests from thousands of Peruvians.
CGTN’s Dan Collyns reports.
From his hospital bed, the former president asked for forgiveness from those he had disappointed.
“I am aware that what resulted during my administration, on one hand, were well-received,” he said. “But I recognize that on the other hand, I have also disappointed other compatriots. To them, I ask forgiveness from the bottom of my heart.”
Fujimori, who is 79-years-old, is serving a 25-year sentence for corruption and human rights abuses, including death squad killings during the 1990s.
He thanked President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski for granting his pardon on Sunday.
“I cannot fail to express my deep gratitude for the complex step that the President has taken that commits me, in this new stage that opens in my life, to strongly support his call for reconciliation.”
But his call didn’t satisfy thousands of angry protesters who filled the streets of Lima on Christmas Day. Police used tear gas as they marched to the hospital where Fujimori has been treated since Saturday, when he suffered a life-threatening drop in blood pressure.
Other protesters chanted “traitor” as they marched to President Kuczynki’s home, rejecting his call to ‘turn the page’ in a national address.
“Let’s not allow ourselves to be led by hate; let’s not paralyze our country,” he had urged. “We’ve turned that page and we will work together for our future, which is, youth of Peru, your future.”
Kuczynski said he could not allow Fujimori to die in prison for humanitarian reasons, but critics said the pardon has more to do with a political deal than Fujimori’s health.
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The pardon came just three days after Fujimori’s son, Kenji, led a faction that broke rank to abstain from a congressional impeachment vote, thereby saving Kuczynski from being ousted.
Doctors at the hospital where Fujimori is being treated said he’s been moved out of intensive care. Depending upon the speed of his recovery, he could be discharged soon, raising a whole new set of questions over the future of Peru’s most divisive public figure.
Supporters credit him with defeating Shining Path rebels and sparking Peru’s economic success. His critics, however, consider him a corrupt autocrat responsible for crimes against humanity.