The appeal for annulment presented by former president Alberto Fujimori’s defense will be resolved within five months, according to estimates by the Supreme Court’s First Transient Criminal Court, in charge of handling the appeal. If approved, this appeal would nullify the 25-year prison sentence Fujimori received on being convicted in his human rights trial for the Barrios Altos and La Cantuta murders.
Judge Elvia Barrios, member of the court reviewing the appeal, told Fujimori on Trial that she and her colleagues estimated the decision on the appeal would take five months due to the complexity of the case and the in-depth analysis necessary.
She indicated that the case is currently with the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Criminal Office, which will issue its ruling in approximately three months.
After this, Judge Barrios explained that the case will pass to the court, which would then schedule a public hearing a month later where Public Prosecutor Pablo Sánchez and Fujimori’s defense attorney, César Nakazaki, would present their arguments.
Once this hearing finishes, the Court will have up to 30 days to give its final verdict.
There are three ways that the appeal for annulment can be resolved. One possibility is that the judges declare it “founded,” meaning that the trial that convicted Fujimori would start from scratch. Alternatively, the judges could reduce the sentence if they find it excessive or, finally, could keep it at 25 years, meaning that sentence would remain in legal terms “consented and executed.”
The appeal is based on the argument that the court that tried Fujimori was biased and did not correctly assess the arguments and evidence presented during the trial. According to Fujimori’s defense attorney, these arguments and evidence demonstrate that the former president did not responsibility for the crimes committed during his first term (1990-1995) by the death squad known as Grupo Colina.
The court that will resolve this appeal is presided by Judge Duberlí Rodríquez and formed by Judge Barrios, Julio Biaggi, Roberto Barandiarán and José Neyra.
The Supreme Court President, Javier Villa Stein, recently announced that the members of this Court were carefully elected after having consulted judges with ample experience in complicated cases.
Meanwhile, Fujimori supporters are hopeful that the final verdict will overturn the conviction, giving way to a new criminal trial for the Barrios Altos and La Cantuta crimes in which the former president will be declared innocent.
New trial delayed
On May 11, Alberto Fujimori was expected to start a new trial for the alleged US$15 million severance pay given to his former advisor Vladimiro Montesinos, which was to be presided by the same court that recently tried him for human rights abuses. However, Attorney Nakazaki has filed a motion of recusal against the court presided by Judge César San Martín due to an alleged lack of impartiality.
In a press release, Attorney Nakazaki explained that the recusal is due to the bias that this court’s judges have against his client, Alberto Fujimori. He believes that if in the first trial they condemned him without taking his defense into account, they will do the same in this new trial. Thus he does not want his client to face another trial that is lost from the very beginning.
The recusal will be resolved in the next few weeks by the Supreme Court’s Second Special Criminal Court. This Court will hold a public hearing in order to listen to Fujimori’s attorney as well as the representative from the Public Prosecutor’s Office and will later issue its resolution. This hearing is expected to take place the last week in May.
If the recusal is accepted, then new judges must be chosen to preside over Fujimori’s next trial. If the recusal is rejected, the court presided by César San Martín will try him in the coming trial, as originally planned.
The Public Prosecutor has stated its disagreement with Attorney Nakazaki’s position and accused him of attempting to delay the criminal procedures. Nakazaki stated that he trusts the judges will be changed for the new trial. He further mentioned that if this does not happen, Fujimori will invoke his right to silence, refusing to give any testimony in this trial.