Peru's Fujimori, pardon annulled, forced back to prison

LIMA (Reuters) - Police took Peru’s former authoritarian president Alberto Fujimori back to prison on Wednesday to finish the remaining 13 years of his 25-year sentence for human rights crimes and graft.

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A court-appointed medical panel concluded last week that Fujimori, 80, was healthy enough to be forced from the local hospital where he was rushed for treatment in October, right after a judge annulled a pardon granted to him in 2017.

Fujimori, a rightwing populist who led Peru from 1990-2000, has said for years that he suffers from life-threatening health problems, including heart issues, that should exempt him from prison.

His critics say he is exaggerating and should not receive special treatment.

Before being driven by police back to a jail on the outskirts of Lima, Fujimori posted a picture of himself looking weary and disheveled. “The end of my life is near,” Fujimori said on Twitter next to the picture.

But the medical panel found him to be in stable condition and he was discharged by the hospital on Wednesday. The white truck he was transported in was followed by local media, which showed him sitting next to his son Kenji.

The head of Peru’s penitentiary institute said Fujimori will have access to a doctor during the day and round-the-clock nurses.

Fujimori’s supporters had cheered when he was pardoned a little over a year ago by former president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who said he did not want Fujimori to die in prison.

But the so-called humanitarian pardon was widely seen as political payback as it came days after Fujimori’s supporters in Congress saved Kuczynski from near impeachment.

Since then, Kuczynski has resigned over graft allegations he denied and the pardon was overturned by a Supreme Court judge.

Fujimori’s daughter, opposition leader Keiko Fujimori, was jailed in October pending trial over money launder allegations she denies. In recent months, several lawmakers have resigned from her party, which won a majority of seats in Congress in the 2016 election.

The Fujimoris, whose forebears migrated from Japan, have said they are the victims of political persecution, but have not provided any evidence to back up the claim.

Fujimori was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2009 for commanding death squads that massacred civilians in a counterinsurgency campaign during his government. He was later found guilty of corruption.

His supporters credit him with ending a severe economic crisis and quashing leftist rebels who started a violent conflict that claimed 69,000 lives.

Reporting By Mitra Taj and Marco Aquino in Lima; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore