Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori was convicted of human rights crimes Tuesday, the first time a democratically elected Latin American president was found guilty in his own country of rights abuses.The Shining Path certainly committed its own violent acts, but for too long, Fujomiri has rested safely on the dual/pseudo-defenses of "those killed were terrorists"/"I didn't know about the killings directly"/"I kept Peru safe". These defenses were bunk (no doubt, the 8-year-old boy killed in one of the two massacres Fujimori was convicted for was not involved in any "terrorist" or "rebel" activities). But they held up for Fujimori for a long time.
A three-judge panel convicted him for ordering a military death squad to carry out two massacres that killed 25 people during his 1990-2000 rule, when he was battling guerrillas. Nearly 70,000 people died in two decades of conflict in the Andean country.
Once lauded as a hero, Fujimori, 70, could spend the rest of his life in prison if he receives a lengthy sentence. He can appeal the ruling, but the verdict is likely to have far-reaching political implications for Peru.
"This court declares that the four charges against him have been proven beyond all reasonable doubt," Judge Cesar San Martin said.
Well, apparently those defenses just dosn't hold up anymore, and hopefully it will set a trend not just for Peru, but for South America more generally: if you support military and paramilitary acts against "terrorists" or "rebels," you will be held responsible. I bet a lot of politicians in Peru just got a bit more nervous, and if I'm Alvaro Uribe, I'm really concerned. But that doesn't matter right now. Right now, this is just a great day for human rights in Peru.
....(UPDATE): If he ends up serving it, 25 years in jail for a 70-year-old human rights violator responsible for (at least) 25 dead seems alright. Sure, it's a year per victim, but if he dies in jail, disgraced and alone, that will be more than adequate, I think.