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LATIN AMERICA | 04-10-2018 21:36

Fujimori says return to prison would be 'death sentence'

Fujimori, 80, addressed a plea to Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra and the Judiciary in a video recorded from his bedside.

A day after the Supreme Court revoked his controversial pardon for crimes against humanity, Peru's former president Alberto Fujimori claimed from his hospital bed on Thursday that a return to prison would be a "death sentence."

"Please do not kill me. If I return to prison my heart will not support it. It is too weak to go through the same thing again,” said Fujimori, 80, in a video recorded in a clinic in Lima, where he was placed in police custody. “Don't sentence me to death. I can give no more."

The court’s decision to order Fujimori’s immediate capture on Wednesday came after more than 10 months of freedom for the former Peruvian president. But immediately after his re-arrest, Fujimori was admitted to a clinic with heart problems.

His doctor, Alejandro Aguinaga, told reporters he experienced a drop in blood pressure and an accelerated heartbeat – the same problems that saw him hospitalised four times since his release last December.

"He is already considered a prisoner," Peruvian Minister of Internal Affairs Mauro Medina told Chile's RPP radio. "He is expected to leave the clinic to take him to the penitentiary."

Fujimori was pardoned on humanitarian grounds in December 2017. He was 12 years into a 25-year jail sentence handed down for ordering two massacres by death squads between 1991 and 1992. 

The pardon, issued by then-president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski before he was himself brought down by a corruption scandal, triggered a wave of protests by human rights organisations and led victims of the president's crackdown to petition the Inter-American Court to demand a judicial review of the process.

Despite having been sentenced for crimes against humanity and corruption, Fujimori continues to enjoy great popularity in Peru for his aggressive methods in countering terrorist groups like the Shining Path.

His controversial legacy is disputed by his children, Keiko and Kenji, whose power struggle has all the intrigue, melodrama, and plots twists of the Shakespeare tragedy King Lear.

- TIMES/AP

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