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Page last updated at 17:55 GMT, Tuesday, 7 April 2009 18:55 UK

Fujimori gets lengthy jail term

Alberto Fujimori at the trial (7 April)
Mr Fujimori's trial was suspended several times due to his poor health

Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori has been sentenced to 25 years in jail for ordering killings and kidnappings by security forces.

At the end of a 15-month trial, judges found him guilty of two death-squad killings of 25 people during the conflict with guerrillas in the 1990s.

After being sentenced, Mr Fujimori said he would appeal against the verdict.

Human rights group Amnesty International described the verdict as "a milestone in the fight for justice".

"Justice has been done in Peru. This is an historic day," said the group's spokesman, Javier Zuniga.

"It is not every day when a former head of state is convicted for human rights violations such as torture, kidnapping and enforced disappearances.

"We hope that it is just the first of many trials in both Latin America and throughout the world."

Abuse of power

Mr Fujimori is already serving a six-year term after being found guilty in 2007 on separate charges of abuse of power.

The trial, which took place at a special-forces police base on the outskirts of the capital, Lima, was the first time a democratically elected Latin American leader had been tried and found guilty in his own country for human rights abuses.

Outside the base, anti-Fujimori activists clashed with his supporters, attacking each other with sticks, fists and stones before being separated by riot police.

In reading the court's ruling, Chief Judge Cesar San Martin said the charges were proven beyond all reasonable doubt.

Correspondents say Mr Fujimori apparently anticipated a guilty verdict. He sat alone taking notes as the verdict was read out.

FUJIMORI CHARGES
1991 Barrios Altos killings: 15 dead
1992 La Cantuta killings: 10 dead
1992 illegal detention: journalist Gustavo Gorriti and businessman Samuel Dyer
Separate trial on corruption and illegal wiretapping charges

As the televised "mega trial" neared its end last Friday, the former leader told the court that the charges against him were exaggerated and motivated by revenge.

There was no proof, he said, that he had overseen a death squad as part of a "dirty war" against suspected Maoist Shining Path guerrillas in the early 1990s.

"I completely reject that I gave any orders in an allegedly parallel system to put into practice a dirty war to defeat terrorism," he said.

The trial heard from about 80 witnesses in more than 150 court sessions.

The prosecution argued that Mr Fujimori authorised the counter-insurgency actions of a death squad known as La Colina that killed 25 people in 1991 and 1992.

Mr Fujimori was also found guilty of ordering the brief abduction of a journalist and a businessman.

A pro-Fujimori rally in Lima on 6 April
Some Peruvians remain vocal in their support for the former president

Mr Fujimori's decade in power came to a dramatic end in November 2000 when he fled to his parents' native Japan in the wake of a bribery scandal involving his intelligence chief.

He spent five years in self-imposed exile in Japan before flying to Chile in 2005 where he was arrested. Two years later he was extradited to Peru to stand trial.

Proceedings over the past 15 months have frequently been held up because of Mr Fujimori's poor health.

However, correspondents say Mr Fujimori is still a political figure.

He is popular among those Peruvians who credit him with saving the country from rebel insurgency and economic collapse. He also has 13 supporters in Peru's 120-member congress, among them his daughter Keiko.

She has not formally announced her candidature for the 2011 elections. But the 33-year-old was the front-runner in a recent Lima-based opinion poll.

She has said she would not hesitate to pardon her father if she became Peru's president.



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SEE ALSO
Head to head: Fujimori verdict
07 Apr 09 |  Americas
Fujimori hits out as trial ends
04 Apr 09 |  Americas
Fujimori 'regrets' rights abuses
22 Dec 07 |  Americas
Profile: Alberto Fujimori
07 Apr 09 |  Americas
Country profile: Peru
25 Feb 09 |  Country profiles

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