Alberto Fujimori, Peru’s former president, has been pardoned on health grounds.
In 2009, Fujimori was sentenced to 25 years in prison for corruption, kidnapping and human rights violations.
Fujimori was found guilty for his role in disappearances and murders by a government-sanctioned death squad, the Grupo Colina death squad.
Fujimori, 79, has always maintained his innocence.
Fujimori’s children have been campaigning for his release for years, saying he is ill and frail.
However, an official pardon was never issued since Fujimori did not have a terminal illness, a condition for a humanitarian pardon.
A poll conducted in May this year showed that 59 percent of Peru’s population supported a pardon of Fujimori, who was president between 1990 and 2000.
Avelino Guillen, former Fujimori prosecutor, says he regrets that a large part of the Peruvians think Fujimori is weak.
“My greatest pain is to acknowledge that to a part of the population, Alberto Fujimori was able to portray himself as a victim – looking frail, a depressing image, a hostage of the judiciary,” Guillen said.
Al Jazeera’s Mariana Sanchez, reporting from Lima, said relatives of Fujimori’s victims feel betrayed by his pardon.
“Many fought for justice for more than two decades,” she said.
“Maybe Peruvians, who for years opposed the presidential pardon, were open to Fujimori’s release if he asked for forgiveness for the crimes he committed.
“But for the families of the victims, that would never be enough.
Norma Mendez, mother of one of Fujimori’s victims, said she wanted Fujimori to complete his sentence.
“They don’t care about our suffering, about our desolation and the pain we still endure. We will never find peace. He’s old while I’m old too. I haven’t found justice, so he must complete his sentence,” Mendez said.
However, supporters say Fujimori was crucial in defeating the Shining Path, a communist group that started a violent insurgency in the early 1980s, and preventing an all-out civil war.
Fujimori’s supporters also say it was he who made possible the economic recovery of Peru during the 1990s.
Despite his release, Fujimori is facing another trial. A case is pending for the death of six people.
If he is convicted, he could be facing another 25-year sentence.
Families of the victims have vowed to continue fighting against Fujimori.
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