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Fujimori’s Conviction Sends Message to Autocrats

Thousands of miles away from Russia, where the judicial farce otherwise known as the second trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky is playing out, there is another case which gives one much greater optimism for the advance of international legal precedent:  the conviction and sentencing (to 25 years in prison) of the former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori. 

Regular readers of this blog are aware that I have followed this case carefully, and will plan to post some additional comments as time permits.  This judicial decision, which has placed a formerly popular authoritarian president before a fair court to stand trial for his crimes and abuses of power while in office, should send a strong message to other world leaders and government officials who have believed themselves to be above the law – you too can one day be held accountable.  Latin America, once again, shows that it can teach us a lot about Russia.

For now, I quote below from an excellent write up by Alvaro Vargas Llosa:

Ultimately, the defeat of Shining Path hadnothing to do with the Colina group–whose victims were not evenaffiliated with Shining Path–but with the activities of a specialpolice unit that captured the Maoists’ leader in 1992.

Itis extraordinarily fitting that, despite the disruptive actions carriedout by Fujimori’s party since he was extradited to be tried for humanrights violations and corruption, and the campaign of intimidationagainst the prosecutors, the families of the victims and the judges,the court handed him a long sentence.

Thedecision should set a precedent for future trials in which politicalleaders who are responsible for destroying a country’s institutions andrule of law seek to evade responsibility by hiding behind the absenceof material proof of their involvement in dirty wars. In many ways, thehistory of Latin America has been one succession of strongmen who didjust that. Fujimori’s sentence sends the message that that traditiondoes not have to be honored forever.