A defiant former President Alberto Fujimori on Friday called his murder and kidnapping trial political persecution and said the charges reflect a double standard since his predecessors never faced trial for alleged abuses during their presidencies.
On the second and final day of his personal defense in the 15 month-trial, Peru's former leader told a packed court that proof of persecution is the fact that he is the only president from Peru's 20-year conflict with leftist guerrillas to be tried for military atrocities.
The 70-year-old Fujimori, who governed Peru from 1990-2000, faces 30 years in prison for allegedly authorizing military death squad killings of 25 people in two early 1990s massacres and the kidnappings of a businessman and a journalist when he sent troops to close Congress and the courts in 1992.
A verdict is expected next week.
Fujimori told the court that current President Alan Garcia, who also governed Peru from 1985-1990, was never charged for massacres allegedly committed during his first term in office.
He also argued that Fernando Belaunde — Peru's president from 1980-1985 — never faced trial for the thousands of deaths and disappearances that occurred in Peru's highlands after he turned Peru's army loose on Maoist Shining Path rebels in 1983.
Judges or prosecutors decided there was not enough evidence linking Garcia to killings in his term. Belaunde died in 2002 before prosecutors began to reopen rights cases following the repeal of a general amnesty law passed for Peru's security forces by Fujimori in 1995.
"What's the difference? Why are Alan Garcia and Fernando Belaunde innocent and Fujimori is guilty? Why the double standard?" Fujimori asked the court.
Nearly 70,000 Peruvians were killed between 1980 and 2000 in the war against the Shining Path. A government-appointed Truth Commission estimated in 2004 that security forces were responsible for 37 percent of the killings and that almost two-thirds of the deaths occurred in the bloody first decade of the conflict.
Some 250 of Fujimori's supporters gathered outside the court on Friday, launching fireworks that could be heard inside courtroom.
No witness in the trial has directly tied Fujimori to the killings or kidnappings, though several of them had publicly made such accusations before the trial.
But prosecutors say there is ample evidence that Fujimori and his spymaster Vladimiro Montesinos created an "apparatus of power" that fought terror with terror.
As Fujimori's predecessor, Garcia oversaw Peru's war against leftist rebels during his first term.
He denies any responsibility for rights abuses committed at the time.
A government-appointed Truth Commission held Garcia politically — not criminally — responsible for military abuses during his presidency.
The commission also determined that Belaunde delegated control of the counterinsurgency to the military, which he continued to support despite reports of widespread human rights violations between 1983 and 1985.
Carlos Rivera, a lawyer for the victim's relatives, said Fujimori's double standard argument was a "direct political message to the president."
"Fujimori is asking for open intervention by the president because I believe as an intelligent man he's absolutely aware that he's going to be found guilty," said Rivera.
Under Peruvian law, Garcia could pardon Fujimori.
Fujimori inherited a country battered by hyperinflation and guerrilla violence when elected in 1990. He is credited by many Peruvians with stamping out the Shining Path.
But his increasingly authoritarian government was undermined by corruption, human rights abuses and intimidation. It eventually collapsed and Fujimori fled to Japan in 2000. But he returned five years later to Chile, which extradited him to stand trial in Peru.
Associated Press writer Tamy Higa contributed to this report.
Source: AP News