Peru President Garcia denies trading Fujimori lenient jail conditions for congressional votes

After riled opposition leaders and local news media pressed him for answers for the past week, Peru President Alan García denied Sunday that he struck a deal with jailed former president Alberto Fujimori’s right-wing party “Alliance for the Future” to trade a “guilded cage” for congressional support.

“This is an absurd lie,” said Garcia, in response to allegations that he gave Fujimori prison privileges, including quasi unrestricted visits by family and friends and greater access to public phones, in exchange of 13 Fujimorista votes which allowed his ruling Aprista party to retain control over Congress.

Local dailies cranked up the headlines last week after Aprista Javier Velásquez was elected Congress President as a result of a surprising bloc vote from Fujimori’s party, and the former president’s jail regime modified just a few days later.

Alberto Fujimori is on trial for crimes against humanity for allegedly sanctioning the Colina Group paramilitary death squad, which killed 25 people in two massacres known as Barrios Altos and La Cantuta. He also faces various other charges for corruption, bribery, illegal phone tapping, and misconduct during his decade-long presidency.

Peru’s opposition parties are so atomized, Garcia argued, “So, there was no need to take any obscure measure, to buy votes or make surreptitious visits, as some dailies like to claim.”

“It would have been impossible that the National Unity Party make an alliance with the Humalistas (Peru’s Nationalist party led by Ollanta Humala) or that the Humalistas join the Fujimoristas, because both would lose out,” García was quoted saying in daily La Republica.

Only the “law and regulations that exist” have been applied and justify making Fujimori’s detention more flexible, he added.

“What could be criticized, is a violation of these (laws and regulations), but to my knowledge, they have not been violated and the INPE (National Penitentiary Institute) has not made unwarranted use of its powers.”

And the decision, he argued, was taken last June.

It’s understandable, García said, that for being a former president Fujimori was not jailed in a penitentiary such as San Juan de Lurigancho or San Jorge.

“What is not understandable is that those who are most fierce in that (Fujimori) be treated as any common delinquent are those who received favors from him. Those that again and again had reunions not only with him, but also with Montesinos. These are the people that are now getting their panties in a bunch.”

Furthermore, García argued, Fujimori’s family has been soliciting improvements in his jail regime since Sept. 2007.

In February, Fujimori’s youngest son, Kenyi, accused García’s administration of conspiring to “slowly kill” his father by giving him a jail regime that did not correspond to him.

Fujimori now has the right to visitors 24 hours per day – instead of 8 – on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

But, according to TV news show “Fourth Estate,” Fujimori has been receiving unauthorized visitors since June 9, though at that time he was only allowed visits from family members directly related to him.

Last Sunday, for his 70th birthday, Fujimori was greeted by Uruguayan musical group Los Iracundos for a couple of songs and a cake.

And, La Republica reported that according to prison records, he has also met with Santería practionner Salomé Ybarguen, esoteric Rosita Chung, publicists, art professors, New York financist David Wong Kcomt, blogger Gustavo Ríos Eslava, ex-Congressman Pedro Vílchez, army Col. Pedro Rejas Tataje — who participated in the 1997 Chavín del Huantar operation — and two personal friends, former Congressman Jorge Trelles and the president of the Peruvian-North American Cultural Association, or ICPNA, German Kruger.

“It is unheard of that Alberto Fujimori benefit from a jail regime different to that of other prisoners of his category,” State Prosecutor José Peláez told Agencia France Press. “Dignity yes, privileges, no.”

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