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Court to review Fujimori’s 25-year sentence

Peru’s Supreme Court on Monday begins a three-day review of former president Alberto Fujimori’s 25-year prison sentence for human rights violations.

A special court handed the 71 year old the harsh prison sentence on April 7 after he was found guilty of authorising a secret military death squad to kill 25 people, and ordering the kidnappings of a businessman and a journalist in the early 1990s.

Three days of hearings will be held on November 23, 24 and 25 “due to the complexity of the case and according to the wishes of the parties”, the court said in a statement.

Prosecutor Pablo Sanchez and civilian attorneys will present their case on Monday, while Fujimori’s defence attorney, Cesar Nakazaki, and his team will have their turn on Tuesday. Nakazaki has already said he expects his presentation will last six hours.

The final day is reserved for rebuttals and counter-rebuttals.

Fujimori, who held office between from 1990 and 2000, is not scheduled to appear or speak, his defence team said. According to Peruvian law, the defendant does not need to be present in a case on appeal.

Nakazaki filed an appeal on April 23 calling for the sentence to be overturned, and is asking the justices to either acquit the former president or order a new trial.

Nakazaki told reporters that Fujimori is skeptical about the outcome. The ex-president is convinced that the Supreme Court justices reviewing the case are “soaked with an ideology that is destructive towards Fujimorismo”, he said.

The hearings will take place in a special courtroom inside the headquarters of the National Police’s special operations division, where the former president is imprisoned.

Once the presentations are complete, the court, headed by Justice Duberli Rodriguez, has 30 working days to issue a ruling that cannot be appealed.

The ruling will not be announced at a hearing, but will be conveyed to each side by the justices, officials said.

Fujimori has been found guilty in four trials since he was extradited from Chile in September 2007.

He was found guilty of abuse of power and sentenced to six years in prison in December 2007.

In July he plead guilty to charges of illegally paying a $15-million bonus to his security chief and right-hand man, Vladimiro Montesinos, and was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years of prison. The sentence is under appeal.

And on September 30 he was given six years prison and ordered to pay $9-million in fines after he admitted to charges of wiretapping and bribing journalists, politicians and business leaders.

Fujimori’s political downfall began in 2000 when a video of Montesinos was broadcast on television, showing the spy chief buying off an opposition lawmaker.

Soon after, Fujimori fled to Asia and resigned via fax from a Tokyo hotel.

Congress refused to accept his resignation and instead voted to sack him and ban him from public office for 10 years.

But the ex-president’s political legacy appears far from extinguished.

Fujimori’s daughter Keiko enjoys her own political career and remains deeply loyal to him.

She is likely to run for the Peruvian presidency in 2011 and, if successful, she has vowed to pardon her father. — AFP

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