Peru's Former President Fujimori Gets 25 Years for Death Squad Role

(image: "Fujimori: Los titulares de la condena," by Flickr user javi270270.)

Alberto Fujimori, former president of Peru, was convicted Tuesday of "crimes against humanity" and received a 25 year sentence for his role in murder and kidnappings committed by death squads in the government's campaign against leftist "Shining Path" guerrillas.

Human rights groups call the ruling a precedent-setting verdict that upholds the internationally-recognized principle that violent abuses must not be committed in the name of fighting terrorism. Snip from Washington Post story:

Many people in Peru admire Fujimori for largely defeating the Shining Path insurgency and ending a two-decade war that left about 70,000 people dead. But the tribunal found that Fujimori was guilty of creating and authorizing a military intelligence death squad that killed innocent people.

(...)Fujimori's trial focused on two episodes of killings: a 1991 raid in which 15 people, including an 8-year-old boy, were killed at a barbecue in Lima where the military intelligence unit was looking for Shining Path suspects. This raid, which became known as the Barrios Altos massacre, was followed by the 1992 abduction and killing of nine students and a teacher from La Cantuta University, also by the Colina Group.

Fujimori was also accused of ordering the kidnappings of journalist Gustavo Gorriti and businessman Samuel Dyer in 1992.

One of the arguments Fujimori partisans sometimes offered was that the dead had been terrorists and that their deaths were, therefore, justified. But the tribunal wrote in the summary of the 711-page sentencing document that none of the 25 people killed in the two massacres had been members of the Shining Path.

Peru's Fujimori Gets 25 Years (washington post, thanks Ned Sublette)

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow recently tweeted,

Fujimori just got 25 yrs for death squads. It's not online, but if you ever get a chance to see this flick about Peru, do:
She's referring to the documentary "State of Fear," which documents the atrocities and how they came to pass. Tagline sound familiar? -- "A nation wages a war on terror and loses its democracy."


  1. Peru is an interesting place. It seems that 80% of production means of the country are centered around a single family… :(

    Hope Fujimori’s condemnation signs a new era for this suffered country.

  2. Was hoping for some discussion here. I’m curious to hear other input, especially from Peruvians. I’ve got a friend that moved to the US from Lima just before his 3rd term, and she speaks very highly of his presidency. She’s very left-leaning in general so I’m wondering how the rest of the country is reacting. From my perfunctory reading over his career, the man pulled the country out of a terrible recession and very nearly put an end to the Shining Path’s terrorism in Peru. But no one can condone the actions taken to get to that point. Seems like there’s a lot to be learned from the 10 years he was in office.

  3. Speaking as a Latin American this is probably one of the most important judicial rulings in a number of years. In a continent where state crimes always goes unpunished Fujimori’s sentence marks a fantastic precedent in hope that maybe other presidents that used terror in order to stablish a doctrine could be tried and punished. Pinochet in Chile and Febres Cordero in Ecuador died without being held responsible for their crimes. The fact that Fujimori will probably die in prison is in a way a beacon of light in a region devastated by injustice. There is actually more than 40 000 people missing and presumed killed by Fujimori’s governement, that if we don’t count that he put his country in a war against Ecuador in order to conceal trials of corruption and a brutally decaying economy that was not in the process of recuperation.
    Fujimori didn’t put an end to shining path just as Febres Cordero didn’t put an end to AVC. The worse is yet to be discovered as there is an investigation in process as it is believed that he carried a campaign of infertilization to indigenous women who were convinced that they were taking vaccines.We as Latin Americans are happy and hope the conviction stays.

  4. And sorry for my bad english..

    I work for a Documentary Film Festival in Ecuador, we presented “State of Fear” and I recommend it very much

  5. Human rights groups call the ruling a precedent-setting verdict that upholds the internationally-recognized principle that violent abuses must not be committed in the name of fighting terrorism.

    I guess it’s too much to hope for that powerful Western leaders guilty of the same will ever see justice.

  6. Yay! Woot!

    Long overdue. Now, if we can just start working on the other bastards out there before they die.

  7. The Shining Path were bad, REALLY BAD. Huge massacres of peasants, major acts of destruction in Lima, basically a communist Taliban. Fujimori may have been bad, but he did what had to be done. I guarantee most Peruvians see him in favorable light.

  8. In a way Fujimori had a lot in common with Pinochet, the main difference is that he was elected in a democratic process. He also used that as an excuse.

  9. yeah… I’m always conflicted when people have voted for someone and then label him a tyrant. It so much easier to hate an ordinary dictator

  10. Would it be too much to wonder if a day will come when Bush and his cohort will face a similar trial?

  11. 25 years

    just imagine how much Augusto Pinochet should have got but didn’t because he always managed to escape trials.

  12. I’m not peruvian, but I am Latin American and have many peruvian friends; and from their point of view, Fujimori saved Peru. Before him, the economy was in shambles He still has a high approval rate in Peru, and there is even talk of His daugther acsending to the presidency… I think of it sort of like Perez Jimenez in Venezuela; he was a dictator and was taken down due to similar reasons, but he did for Venezuela what no other leader before (or after) has done. If he was allowed to rule for another 5-10 years, I reckon Venezuela would be in a much different place right now…

  13. Hopefully someday the US will become an advanced democracy like Peru and will denounce the torture instigated by it’s own leaders…

  14. I’m glad to see sometimes, my caustic pitch-black cynicism isn’t proved correct- occasionally, real justice does come to those who deserve it.

    That said, I hope this bastard rots in jail for the rest of his life. I don’t know if multiple life sentences are possible in Peru’s legal system, but I’d say someone like this is who such things were designed for.

    May his victims rest in peace with this news.

  15. Hope I don’t burst anyone’s hopes for justice but I heard on NPR the other day that his daughter is a very popular lawmaker and the front runner for the presidential post in 2011. She has stated she will pardon him immediately and apparently she has a lot of support.

  16. The difference between Fujimori and Bush is that Fujimori had a shittier national guard. In the US, no insurgent organization would even be able to rent a hall to meet without being sniffed out. Peru’s movement had their militia well-organized before the gov’t started retaliating.

    Taking away from the gravity of the situation, one thing that symbolizes the insane extent that Fujimori reached was his personal participation in a hostage standoff. Not sure when it happened, but it was practically his last personal appearance. In true Texas fake-cowboy theatrics, he arrived with a bull horn to personally threaten the enemy before his SWAT team raided and massacred the militia. He then ushered the survivors onto a bus and escorted them from the scene.

    In a nation like Peru where the media struggles to combat diversity, this gesture had limited impact. Compare that to Bush’s ‘Mission Accomplished’ speech, which was similar in nature and ubiquitously accepted as not absurd across our countries hundreds of media outlets.

  17. @#17-

    Too late. Thanks a lot. I couldn’t enjoy the ray of hope for humanity for one night? (#16 & not signed in)

    Someone once said “reality has a liberal bias”. Well I’m pretty damn sure it doesn’t- I’d say the bias toward petty evil and stupidity is a lot clearer. Why would anyone vote for someone who openly wants to pardon a war criminal?

    I have to see, I have to know, as much as I can. Unfortunately the truth does not always set you free, in fact, it often cuts you with a razor sharp hunting knife, shits in your bed, kicks you in the face, and then leaves you to die. That’s been happening to me a lot lately. Is it just me?

  18. hey Guido-David! You listening? I know Peru is not Venezuela, but I value your contempt for lies; what do you think?

  19. Well, I’m a 30 year-old Peruvian and I remember Fujimori’s time quite clearly. Yes, the economy was disastrous before he came into office, with an astounding rate of inflation. Yes, the Shining Path was killing people and terrorizing everyone. And yes, Fujimori´s government solved pretty much all of that. But what his fans and supporters don’t get is that he was not being tried for that. He has been tried and condemned for flagrant violations of Human Rights, not for his economic policies or his other accomplishments.
    If I kill somebody, and I do it coldly and with premeditation, the jury would not declare me innocent beacuse I’m a good professional, a great guy who loves his mom, a whiz at math or anything like that. They stick to the facts and indicia, and everything points to Fujimori’s mediate responsibility in all the charges now.
    About his daughter’s Keiko’s chances of reaching the office: it’s actually more unlikely than it would seem. It’s undeniable that Fujimorism still has a lot of following here (since sadly a lot of people would rather give up their liberties and allow atrocities in exchange of some food and shelter), but I do think she might not keep the stride until the 2011 elections. Peruvians are rather fickle in their voting intentions, and a lot of things can happen until 2011. Let’s hope for the best and for a good candidate to show up.

  20. Alberto Fujimori was a charismatic leader. But he was being judged for using his abusive power (his party was the majority force in the Congress and in the coup d’état in 1992, Fujimori change all the judges to his favor) to kill suspects of terrorism. It’s well known he didn’t believe in bringing suspects of terrorism to a court. It’s true the judicial system was exaggerated corrupted back then and it could take years to imprison a terrorist.
    Fujimori went for the easy way, just kill them all. Besides those people lived in poverty, in the mountains where there’s no press or even a phone or a post office. I just want to point out that Fujimori is guilty of murdered suspects of terrorism, he was a reliable President but he committed excess and in order to exterminate the terrorism innocent people was tortured and murderer just because he wasn’t able to change the judicial system in his own country. He was the President for god’s sake, at least he could tried

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