By Judi Cheng
On April 7, the ex-president of Peru, Alberto Fujimori, now age 70, was convicted of crimes against humanity. He was given a 25-year sentence by a three-judge panel of Peru’s Supreme Court. It is the first time an elected former head of state has been convicted in his own country for crimes against humanity* under international criminal law.
Fujimori was found responsible for the killings of civilians by government death squads that took place during his presidency from 1990-2000.
He is also facing charges of corruption including illegal phone-tapping, misuse of government funds and paying money to media companies so that they would print stories to make him look good.
In 2000, Fujimori resigned after fleeing to Japan to avoid a corruption scandal. Japan protected him as a national, since Fujimori is of Japanese descent. Japan refused to extradite him (send him back). In 2005, he went to Chile to try to get back into politics in Peru but in 2007 he was arrested and sent back to Peru.
“The Peruvian court has shown that even former heads of state cannot expect to get away with serious crimes,” said Maria McFarland of the organization Human Rights Watch.
*Crimes Against Humanity: An official or widespread policy of degrading or humiliating attackson a person or group of people