Supreme Court’s Special Criminal Court will issue sentence next Wendesday.
In the first hearing of his fourth criminal trial, held this Monday, Sept. 28, former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori surprised the court by accepting his responsibility in telephone wiretapping, bribing congress members and the illegal purchase of local media outlets, all of which were conducted with the support of former advisor Vladimiro Montesinos in order to assure Fujimori’s election in 2000. The Special Criminal Court of the Supreme Court that is presiding over this trial announced that the sentence will be issued next Wednesday.
“I accept,” were the only words that Fujimori, 71, said when Judge Víctor Prado Saldarriaga asked whether he accepted the charges against him. Previously expected to last a year, Fujimori’s trial will now be limited to just two sessions in light of his plea.
Public Prosecutor José Peláez has requested a sentence of eight years in prison for the former head of state, as well as the payment of US $1.6 million to the Peruvian government and $1 million to victims. However, Pedro Gamarra, public prosecutor of the anti-corruption division, has asked the court to demand a payment of $6 million in civil reparations.
According to the Peruvian Code of Criminal Procedures, Fujimori’s acceptance of the charges is classified as an “anticipated conclusion of the lawsuit,” which means that the defendant accepts all charges in order to drastically reduce the trial’s duration. This legal motion will allow the former president to receive a lighter sentence than what the Public Prosecutor’s Office has requested.
Fujimori has already been condemned to 25 years in prison for human rights violations and has additional sentences for corruption (seven and a half years) and abuse of authority (six years). In Peru, sentences cannot be accumulated, instead only the greatest prevails. However, the 25-year sentence is currently being revised by the Supreme Court’s Transitory Criminal Court, which can uphold, modify or annul the sentence, demanding a retrial.
In light of his plea, Fujimori will no longer face the over 60 witnesses that Public Prosecutor Peláez was planning to summon. These witnesses were expected to comment on Fujimori’s alleged involvement in using illegal wiretapping against his political adversaries and opposition journalists, how he managed to pay a group of congress members to abandon their parties and pass to his own and also the “purchase” of the media which silenced all criticism against him.
Former president Fujimori has taken refuge in the anticipated conclusion “because he has no other hope of receiving justice from a court that has turned into a political death squad,” said Carlos Raffo, congressman and spokesman for the pro-Fujimori political following. “Fujimori has said that they should condemn him once and for all since they were just going to condemn him anyway,” he added.
For his part, leftist congressman Javir Diez Canseco, who was also present during the trial, asserted that Fujimori’s plea was merely a strategy to avoid a trial that would remind the Peruvian public of all the stealing, murders and abuses carried out during the Fujimori regime.
“The ‘Fujimoristas’ do not want the truth to be discovered and seek to protect their future candidate Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the former head of state, for the 2011 presidential elections,” he proclaimed energetically to surrounding journalists outside the trial held at Police’s Special Operations Office (Diroes).