Fujimori gets an eight-day break from human rights abuse trial for treatment of pre-cancerous mouth lesion

Jailed ex-President Alberto Fujimori will get an eight-day break from his human rights abuse trial for allegedly sanctioning a paramilitary dead squad during his decade-long authoritarian regime so that doctors can treat him for a pre-cancerous lesion in his mouth.

The Peruvian Supreme Court issued the order Monday to suspend proceedings. The lead judge in the trial, César San Martín, ordered that testimony Wednesday will last only half a day. The trial will then adjourn until June 11.

Fujimori, 69, is suffering from a resurgence of leukoplakia, which he was treated for more than a decade ago.

The eight-day break was granted over the objections of public prosecutor José Peláez Bardales, who argued that the surgery Fujimori requires is relatively routine and that no more than three days of post-op rest should be allowed.

Under Peruvian law, a trial may be suspended for a maximum of eight working days if the defendant requires medical attention or treatment. Exceeding this limit would force the judge to call for a mistrial — a risk Peláez said the court should not take with Fujimori, who faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted, ample motive for the defendant to try to force the proceedings back to square one.

In cases of “force majeure,” or forces beyond anyone’s control, Peru’s justice system allows an exception from eight days to 12, Peláez noted.

The former president is to be operated on by specialists from Peru’s National Neoplasia Institute. The procedure will be supervised by doctors from Peru’s National Forensic Institute, whom Fujimori accused last week of minimizing the gravity of his leukoplakia and of politicising his illness.

Congressman and Fujimori’s family doctor Alejandro Aguinaga told reporters that Fujimori should be hospitalized for a maximum of 48 hours if no complications arise.

“This isn’t a ploy, as critics have speculated, that is being used to obtain a mistrial. The former president’s firm desire is to go on with the trial because he is proving that he was the man who pacified the country, the man who made it possible that we all work in peace and that we be able to travel within our country as a consequence of defeating terrorism,” Aguinaga told Radioprogramas radio.

On Monday, the court heard testimony from retired army Gen. Julio Salazar Monroe,who was sentenced last month to 35 years in prison for the notorious 1992 kidnapping and murders of a professor and nine student from La Cantuta University by the Colina group paramilitary death squad.

Salazar, who served from 1991-98 as the official head of the Peru’s National Intelligence Service, or SIN, under the direction of Fujimori’s de facto national intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, didn’t help the prosecutions case during his first day on the stand.

He retracted sworn statements he allegedly provided to police in 2001 that implicated Fujimori and his top spy chief, Montesinos.

“I was the one that directed the reunions that took place in the SIN. To say otherwise is insulting,” Salazar said as he responded to another witness’ testimony that Montesinos controlled the SIN and that his role as official commander of intelligence agency was a front.

On Nov. 8, 1991, Fujimori enacted Legislative Decree Nº 746 which took control of the SIN away from the military and made it directly answerable to him, and Montesinos, who acted as a go-between to Fujimori with top military and police commanders.
Salazar also denied his earlier sworn statement that Montesinos gave orders on Fujimori’s behalf and acted as Fujimori’s right hand within the military. That testimony, he argued, was taken in a prison cell while he “was nervous” and was based on pure supposition.

“Everything indicates that he is following a script to protect Fujimori and Montesinos,” Peláez said of the witness. “And this idea seems more plausible if we take into consideration that his lawyer (César Nakazaki) is also defending the former president.”

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