Tens of thousands in Lima protest release of ex-president Alberto Fujimori

World Today

Demonstrators shout slogans against the pardon of former President Alberto Fujimori while holding the flag of Peru that reads in Spanish: “Pardon is Insult, Assassin”, in Lima, Peru, Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017. Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski granted a medical pardon to the former strongman Fujimori who was serving a 25-year sentence for human rights abuses, corruption and the sanctioning of death squads. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

‘Never Again’ – It’s become the battle cry of thousands in Peru who are outraged over the Christmas Eve pardon of former president Alberto Fujimori. Many believe the current president did it to gain political support and avoid impeachment.

CGTN’s Dan Collyns reports from Lima.

In Peru, thousands marched in the largest protest since Peru’s former leader Alberto Fujimori had his 25-year jail term for corruption and human rights crimes lifted in a Christmas Eve presidential pardon.

The march began in a jocular fashion. Many there question whether Fujimori – who was granted the pardon on health grounds – is really seriously ill.

The 79-year-old leader was convicted of overseeing rampant corruption in his government in the 1990s. Human rights crimes were carried out by a military death squad under his command. The faces of the innocent victims have convinced many that Fujimori should not have been released.

Tens of thousands marched through Peru’s capital. Leading the march were the families of the victims of the death squad killings the ex-president was convicted of authorizing in 2009.

“For many years, we have marched and now we have had to take to the streets again because of this pardon for Fujimori,” mother of a death squad victim said. “He has not completed the jail sentence which he deserves and that’s an insult to the families.”

Many directed their anger at President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski – chanting that he should go. 

“The president has lost all legitimacy, and he should resign and convene new elections,” Maria Isabel Cedano, feminist activist said.

The current president has said it was time to ‘turn the page’ in the interests of national reconciliation. But critics accuse him of pardoning Fujimori in an alleged deal with his party to avoid impeachment.

Fujimori – from a hospital bed – asked for forgiveness from those Peruvians he had ‘let down” but did not apologize for his crimes.

That has done nothing to lessen the outrage and the international criticism over the move. Meanwhile, both Kuczynski and Fujimori’s daughter Keiko have been questioned by prosecutors over alleged links to the corruption-riddled Brazilian firm Odebrecht.