Relatives of victims of the La Cantuta and Barrios Altos massacres during the presidency of Peruvian dictator Alberto Fujimori described his pardon as an "insult" and demanded justice during a press conference in Costa Rica Thursday.
Carmen Condor, sister of murdered student Armando Amaro Condor who was killed in the Cantuta massacre, said the pardon "has gifted freedom" to Fujimori while she and other relatives have "been denied the right to justice."
"The pardon is not justice, the pardon reaffirms murder and disappearances, the pardon is impunity, it is an illegal pact by the government with the Fujimorismo. We are going to demand justice and that he returns to prison to complete the years that they imposed on him", Condor told reporters as quoted by EFE news agency.
The press conference was held in San José, at the headquarters of the Center for Justice and International Law, one day before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights hears from representatives of the Peruvian government and of the victims as well as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Fujimori was sentenced by the Peruvian judiciary in 2009 to 25 years in prison for ordering the massacres of La Cantuta and Barrios Altos, in which 25 people died, and the kidnapping of a journalist and a businessman in 1992. Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski granted 79-year-old Fujimori a pardon on Dec. 24 based on humanitarian reasons.
The press conference was also attended by Gladys Sonia Rubina Arquiñigo, sister of Nelly María who disappeared on Nov. 3, 1991. She told EFE that her "pain is immense, as if they had murdered my sister again."
"I feel mocked, outraged, I ask for justice so that the condemned man returns to prison and completes his 25-year sentence, it is what I ask for my sister so that she can rest in peace," Arquiñigo lamented.
The defense team of the victims relatives told reporters that they will argue to judges that the pardon was a "political agreement" while questioning the legitimacy and legality of the health certificate issued for the former dictator.
"The pardon has been qualified as humanitarian by health conditions and we have questioned the legality and legitimacy of that health certificate and we have qualified [the pardon] as the result of a political agreement under the table led by President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and a fraction [of the Congress] led by Fujimori’s son, Kenji," Carlos Rivera, lawyer for the victims, argued.
Kuczynski was facing an impeachment vote in Congress over corruption allegations, just days before the pardon, and lawmakers loyal to Kenji voted against it and narrowly saved the president from the passage of the bill. Many critics and some lawmakers have repeatedly argued that a deal was brokered between the two.
Meanwhile Rosa Rojas, whose husband Manuel Ríos and her eight-year-old son Javier were murdered by Fujimori's death squads, said that she has faith in the court and hopes that justice will be done.
"With this pardon they have left us destroyed, they have destroyed our struggle for getting justice over the years, we were calmer, but now we are reliving the wounds, we have not received the justice we wanted, our rights have been violated," she told EFE.