LIMA (Reuters) - Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, in prison for corruption and human rights crimes, is in poor health because of oral cancer and will ask President Ollanta Humala for a humanitarian pardon, his daughter said on Friday.
A humanitarian pardon, which could be granted after a series of medical and judicial reviews, might allow Humala to gain support in Congress from Fujimori’s right-wing party and solidify a working majority for the ruling Gana Peru party.
But a pardon would anger Peruvians on the left who tried for years to unseat Fujimori, rallied to put him on trial after he stepped down, and who remember Humala as the young army officer who stood up to Fujimori and publicly demanded he resign.
Some sceptics have said a pardon might carry far-reaching political implications by eventually paving the way for Humala to ask Congress to change the constitution to allow his ambitious and telegenic wife, Nadine Herrera, to run for office in 2016, when he cannot run for a second term.
Fujimori’s authoritarian government collapsed in 2000 after a decade in power. He was extradited to Peru from Chile in 2007 and later sentenced in a series of trials to 25 years in prison for theft and using death squads to crack down on insurgents.
On Monday the Inter-American Court of Human Rights told Peru to annul a July ruling by its Supreme Court that downgraded crimes committed by the death squads and which Fujimori’s lawyers hoped to use to win an early release for their client. The setback dealt by the international court prompted Fujimori’s family to say on Friday they would ask for a pardon.
Now 74, Fujimori has cancer in his mouth and is depressed, his family and lawyer say. Critics say prisoners who are much sicker don’t receive pardons.
Humala has at times appeared willing to grant a pardon, though some of his aides clearly oppose one.
“We hope there is a change in attitude on the part of people who speak for the government and that this request be evaluated on humanitarian, not political, grounds,” said Fujimori’s daughter, Keiko Fujimori, a prominent member of Congress. She said the request for a pardon would be filed in the coming days.
Fujimori was credited for slaying hyperinflation and opening Peru’s economy to trade and foreign investment, enabling it to become one of the fastest-growing in Latin America.
He also militarily defeated the Maoist Shining Path insurgency, but his authoritarian style and widespread corruption turned Peruvians against him, and he fled to Japan in 2000.
Reporting By Terry Wade; editing by Philip Barbara