LIMA Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, in prison for human rights crimes and suffering from oral cancer, has asked President Ollanta Humala for a humanitarian pardon, his children said on Wednesday.
A pardon, which may only be granted after a series of medical reviews, could realign voting blocs in Congress, alter the field of candidates in the 2016 presidential election and prompt others jailed for political violence to demand their freedom.
"We're making this request for a humanitarian pardon based on medical reasons," the jailed leader's oldest daughter, Keiko Fujimori, a lawmaker who ran against Humala for the presidency in 2011, told reporters.
"We note all of his illnesses and the five operations and surgeries that my father has had on his tongue," she said upon filing documents with the Justice Ministry.
A pardon might allow Humala to gain support in Congress from Fujimori's right-wing party and solidify a working majority for the ruling Gana Peru party, which has suffered defections from left-wing lawmakers frustrated by Humala's conservative drift.
But a pardon would anger Peruvians who tried for years to unseat Fujimori, rallied to put him on trial after he stepped down, and who remember Humala as the young army officer who stood up to Fujimori and publicly demanded he resign.
Some political observers have said a pardon might be enough to induce Fujimori's party to agree to help change the constitution to allow Humala's ambitious and telegenic wife, Nadine Herrera, to run for office in 2016, when he cannot run for a second term. Current rules prohibit his close family members from running too.
Freeing Fujimori could also embolden demands by Movadef, the political arm of the Shining Path insurgency that led Peru's bloody internal conflict in the 80s and 90s, to push for amnesty for rebels in prison on terrorism charges.
"A pardon would help one person's situation, but it would leave unresolved other problems deriving from the internal war," said Alfredo Crespo, Movadef leader and the lawyer for the jailed and unrepentant founder of the Shining Path Abimael Guzman.
"We're not opposed to it, if it is granted it would open the doors to national reconciliation," he said.
Fujimori defeated militarily most of the Shining Path insurgency during his decade in power, but his authoritarian style and widespread corruption turned Peruvians against him, and he fled to Japan in 2000.
He was extradited to Peru from Chile in 2007 and later sentenced in a series of trials to 25 years in prison for theft and using death squads to crack down on insurgents.
Now 74, Fujimori was credited for slaying hyperinflation and opening Peru's economy to trade and foreign investment, enabling it to become one of the fastest-growing in Latin America.
(Reporting By Omar Mariluz and Reuters TV; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)