(Bloomberg) -- Peru’s top judges are challenging an international court over the potential release of a former president jailed for death squad killings.
Former President Alberto Fujimori was pardoned in 2017, but was sent back to jail, where he has remained partly due to the intervention of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, or IACHR.
Peru’s highest court, the Constitutional Tribunal, is calling for prison authorities to act on the pardon and free Fujimori, which would mean disregarding the nation’s commitments to the IACHR.
“In this case, what prevails is the Constitutional Tribunal’s decision,” Francisco Morales Saravia, the head of Peru’s top court, said in an interview with RPP radio on Wednesday. “It is now up to prison authorities to proceed with his release.”
That’s putting pressure President Dina Boluarte to decide whether to honor the nation’s agreements with the IACHR, which risks alienating Fujimori’s party in congress. Fujimori’s Fuerza Popular, led by his daughter Keiko, has continued to back Boluarte in the legislature even as her approval ratings sank to 8% this month.
Read more: Peru Leader’s Approval Falls to Single Digits Amid Recession
Boluarte has yet to weigh in on the issue. Her role is key, since she is charge of the prison system.
The president’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Fujimori, 85, was jailed in 2005 following extradition from Chile, before being sentenced in 2009.
He remains a divisive figure in the Andean nation. Many Peruvians credit him with saving the country from chaos, defeating Maoist rebels and ending hyperinflation, though he also presided over corruption, torture and massacres.
Most of Latin America’s major countries are members of a treaty supporting the IACHR and its decisions, which is part of the Organization of American States. Venezuela left the system in 2012.
Fujimori was originally pardoned on Christmas eve six years ago by then-President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. A Peruvian court overturned the pardon and returned Fujimori to prison, but Peru’s top court has now twice issued rulings restating the pardon.
Human rights organizations have insisted that Fujimori should remain in jail.
“The Constitutional Tribunal’s position represents a big step backward,” said human rights organization Cejil in a statement. “We call on the judiciary to abstain from implementing the Constitutional Tribunal ruling, complying with what has been ordered by the IACHR.”
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