An eye-opener

FORMER Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for ordering a military squad to carry out a guerilla operation that led to the death of 25 non-combatants. It should serve as an eye-opener for rulers from around the globe, who have been governing in a similar fashion and making policies that have resulted in deaths of a number of civilians. The growing demands to put former Pakistani strongman General Musharraf on trial should be seen in the same context. However, Mr Fujimori's conviction will also have a deep impact on Peruvian politics. Supporters have been called to take to the streets to protest the verdict and it seems that Peru is in for a bit of political turmoil as resentment in some circles against the court decision have been slowly making its presence felt. Mr Fujimori, who ruled Peru from 1990 to 2000, had to fight a tough insurgency launched by Shining Path terrorists, who for a long time had been carrying out numerous attacks aimed at destabilizing the government. Little wonder he had to be tough on these groups and launched a crackdown against them. His daughter Keiko Fujimori claims that he saved the country from terrorism. The terrorist organization, through its unlawful activities including bomb attacks, had exacted a heavy toll on the law and order situation. Around 70,000 people had died in the bloody civil war that started in the early 1980s. Notwithstanding all this civil strife and fight against terror, the court has convicted Mr Fujimori for what it believes was an unlawful act: ordering a commando action that led to the deaths of civilians who had no connection with terrorism. This could also be described as a success of the Peruvian judicial system. A Human Rights Watch official is right in saying that the Peruvian court has shown that even former heads of state cannot expect to get away with serious crimes. But then there are other things that must be considered as well. The decision must have put current President Alan Garcia on tenterhooks as there is a perception that he too has been governing in a harsh and arbitrary style that has claimed innocent lives.

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