Media Imperils Fair Trial For Fujimori, Lawyer Says
Lima. The fate o f former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori will depend on how politicized his human rights trial becomes in its final weeks, his defense attorney said on Thursday.
Cesar Nakazaki said that if Fujimori was judged on evidence then he will be cleared of the charges against him, which include ordering two massacres that left 25 people dead and two kidnappings in the early 1990s when Peru was at war with leftist guerrillas.
But if the trial is tainted by what Nakazaki described as a parallel case, the one running in Peruvian media, Fujimori, 70, will likely be convicted for up to 30 years, he said.
“Judges in Peru listen to and take the temperature of the headlines,” Nakazaki said, referring to newspapers that have forecast a guilty verdict.
Although newspapers have been running negative stories about Fujimori, international observers have given the trial high marks for fairness.
Fujimori was once a hugely popular figure in Peru, where he is credited with pulling the country out of economic chaos and capturing the leadership of the deadly Shining Path insurgency.
But rights groups say he oversaw a dirty counterinsurgency that ensnared innocent people.
He quit in disgrace in 2000 as a series of wiretapping, bribery and corruption scandals sank his government. Fujimori sent his resignation by fax while visiting Japan, where his parents were born.
If Fujimori is found guilty, Nakazaki said he would appeal the decision as high as the Inter-American Court on Human Rights.
The trial is expected to wrap up at the end of March, or in early April, but Nakazaki said Fujimori’s controversial legacy will likely take much longer to define.
“The last word on President Fujimori will not be decided by the courts, but by the people of Peru,” he said.