Peru court orders former president Fujimori tried for 1992 mass killing

President Peruvian Alberto Fujimori waves to supporters as he is wheeled out of the Centenario Clinic in Lima, where he was hospitalized for the last twelve days, on January 4. Prosecutors are seeking 25 years in prison for the former leader in the latest case lodged against him. (AFP)
Updated 20 February 2018
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Peru court orders former president Fujimori tried for 1992 mass killing

LIMA: A Peruvian court ordered former president Alberto Fujimori on Monday to stand trial for the 1992 killings of six farmers, arguing that he lacks immunity despite a recent pardon for a different crime.
The National Criminal Court said the pardon granted to Fujimori in a human rights case for which he was serving a 25-year sentence did not apply to the murders of the group.
Prosecutors asked to try the ex-president and 23 others for the death squad killings.
Fujimori, 79, was pardoned by the current Peruvian president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, on December 24 on humanitarian grounds because of ill health.
The former leader had been serving a sentence for crimes that included commanding death squads that killed suspected civilian sympathizers of leftwing guerrillas that his regime was fighting.
The pardon triggered street protests in Peru and was slammed by international rights groups as a blow in the struggle against impunity.
Kuczynski’s pardon was seen by many as quid pro quo for help from Fujimori’s lawmaker son Kenji days earlier in beating an impeachment vote in Congress over alleged corruption.
Miguel Perez, Fujimori’s attorney, said it was not yet clear if the issue of immunity could be addressed again.
Perez told local media that he tried to have the ex-president serve as a witness in the new case, but failed. “So in this trial, he simply will be listed as one of the accused,” Perez said.
Prosecutors are seeking 25 years in prison for the ex-leader.
“Mr Fujimori now has resumed his status as a defendant, and in the case of the pardon, there was no sensible justification,” human rights lawyer Carlos Rivera said.
Fujimori’s daughter Keiko, leader of the largest party in congress, the right-wing Fuerza Popular, said she regretted that her father would be tried again.
She expressed hope the charges would not mean her father will be taken into custody again, give his age and poor health.
“Alberto Fujimori deserves to be free as he confronts this process,” Keiko Fujimori wrote on Twitter.
Kuczynski had pledged not to pardon Alberto Fujimori in the earlier case. But he did so just days after Kenji Fujimori’s vote in his favor, sparking speculation the pardon was a political quid pro quo.
Rights groups and relatives of victims asked the Inter-American Court of Human Rights earlier this month to rule against a pardon for Fujimori.
Kuczynski — who defeated Keiko Fujimori for the presidency in 2016 — said he had pardoned the ex-president for humanitarian reasons.
The pardon has drawn heavy criticism from victims of Fujimori’s 1990-2000 rule, as well as their relatives and human rights advocates.
Two United Nations human rights experts also said the pardon was a “slap in the face” to victims of his brutal rule.
“The presidential pardon granted to Alberto Fujimori on politically motivated grounds undermines the work of the Peruvian judiciary and the international community to achieve justice,” UN special rapporteurs Agnes Callamard and Pablo de Greiff said in a statement in December.
“We are appalled by this decision. It is a slap in the face for the victims and witnesses whose tireless commitment brought him to justice.”
Still, Fujimori earned respect from many Peruvians for his ruthless and unflinching campaign to defeat leftist guerrillas during his presidency.


India’s Modi faces calls for resignation over French jet deal

Updated 22 September 2018
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India’s Modi faces calls for resignation over French jet deal

  • Indian political parties have been gunning for Modi over the 2016 purchase of 36 Rafale planes from Dassault Aviation estimated to be worth $8.7 billion, saying he had overpaid for the planes and had not been transparent.
  • Political analysts say that the BJP is “losing in the perception war.”

DELHI: India’s prime minister was under fire over allegations of corruption in a military jet deal with France after comments by former French President François Hollande. Hollande was quoted as saying Narendra Modi’s government had influenced the choice of a local partner.
Indian political parties have been gunning for Modi over the 2016 purchase of 36 Rafale planes from Dassault Aviation estimated to be worth $8.7 billion, saying he had overpaid for the planes and had not been transparent.
The opposition, led by Congress President Rahul Gandhi, spent the past year alleging that the deal is a scam, in which India is overpaying for jets and the government is allowing a private company — billionaire Indian businessman Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defense — to benefit instead of state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
On Friday, Hollande, who cleared the intergovernmental deal when he was in office, was quoted as saying New Delhi had put pressure on Dassault to choose Reliance.
“We had no choice. We took the interlocutor that was given to us,” he was reported as telling the French news service Mediapart, fueling a political storm in India.
The Indian government, however, has insisted all along that it had nothing to do with Dassault’s decision to work with Reliance Defense.
Under Indian defense procurement rules, a foreign firm must invest at least 30 percent of the contract in India to help to build up its manufacturing base and wean off imports.
HAL was the sole contender for being the local partner of Dassault Aviation, but when the deal was sealed in 2015 during Modi’s Paris trip the Reliance Defense procured the contract .
“The PM personally negotiated and changed the Rafale deal behind closed doors. Thanks to François Hollande, we now know he personally delivered a deal worth billions of dollars to ...Anil Ambani,” said Mr. Gandhi in a tweet.
Gandhi further tweeted: “The PM and Anil Ambani jointly carried out a ... SURGICAL STRIKE on the Indian Defense forces. Modi Ji you dishonored the blood of our martyred soldiers. Shame on you. You betrayed India’s soul.”
Gandhi repeated the charge in a press conference in New Delhi on Saturday.
The BJP, however, says that there is no corruption.
“The fact that two sovereign heads of States negotiated a deal means that there is no room for corruption,” said Sudesh Verma, BJP spokesperson.
Talking to Arab News Verma emphasized that “the highest integrity was maintained in the deal. Now the Congress is not talking of corruption but favoritism. Merely by saying that Reliance Defense was favored by us would not cut any ice. These are insinuations and are irresponsible.”
Political analysts say that the BJP is “losing in the perception war.”
“No matter what the indian government says that perception is that the Indian government gave the offset contract to Anil Ambani, a guy who has no history of producing defense equipment,” says Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a New Delhi based political analyst.
He added: “The halo around Modi has been severely diminished after the recent revelations. This is something which it would be very difficult to live it down now.”