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Peru president hints at Fujimori pardon

Alberto Fujimori waves to photographers gathered near the Japanese embassy in Santiago, on February 20, 2007
Former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori waves to photographers gathered near the Japanese embassy in the Chile capital Santiago, on February 20, 2007. President Ollanta Humala has left open the door for a possible pardon of Fujimori, the ex-Peruvian le

President Ollanta Humala has left open the door for a possible pardon of Alberto Fujimori, the ex-Peruvian leader serving a 25-year prison sentence for human rights abuses.

Fujimori, 74, and his family filed a request for a humanitarian release on medical grounds in October.

Only the president can grant such a pardon, but Humala has said little on the subject and in the meantime ordered a government report on the subject.

"Of course I would meet" with Fujimori supporters to discuss the ex-president's case, Humala said in an interview with a leading Peruvian TV network, "but any meeting would have to take place after I get the report."

Fujimori supporters retain considerable political clout in the nation's single chamber Congress, and there has long been talk of a backroom deal to release the ex-leader.

Humala defeated Fujimori's daughter, former legislator Keiko Fujimori, in a bitter presidential election run-off in June 2011.

In October, Fujimori's four adult children formally asked Humala for a humanitarian pardon, citing their father's failing health.

The ex-leader has been treated for cancerous lesions on his tongue, but a medical panel in March said there was no evidence the cancer had returned. Opponents say a pardon means he would escape punishment for the crimes committed during his presidency.

Humala said that he would not be pressured "through the media or with diatribes" into releasing the ex-president.

The pardon request has reopened old wounds in Peru, where some 70,000 people were killed in the 1980s and 1990s in a guerrilla war launched by the Maoist Shining Path and in the subsequent government crackdown.

Fujimori, who first took office in 1990, fled Peru to his parents' native Japan in the final days of his presidency amid a massive corruption scandal, and then resigned by fax from a Tokyo hotel in late 2000.

Japan subsequently granted him citizenship, and Lima spent years unsuccessfully trying to convince Tokyo to extradite him to face corruption and human rights charges.

He was arrested during a visit to Chile and, after extensive legal wrangling, extradited to Peru to face charges in September 2007.

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