LIMA – Peru’s Constitutional Court (TC) declared on Monday a legal appeal calling for the release from preventive prison of opposition leader Keiko Fujimori “justified.”
The daughter of former authoritarian President Alberto Fujimori – who himself is currently serving a 25-year sentence for human rights crimes and graft – has been held in prison for almost 13 months while an investigation is being conducted into her alleged money laundering activities linked with the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.
Court president Ernesto Blume said Monday at a press conference that the terms of the ruling will be published on Thursday and sent the next day to judicial branch authorities so that they can arrange Fujimori’s release as soon as possible.
Blume said that the TC decided “to declare the writ of habeas corpus justified due to its effect on the right of (Fujimori’s) personal liberty.”
The suit had been filed by Fujimori’s sister Sachi Marcela.
Blume said that four magistrates voted in favor of releasing Fujimori – Blume himself, Carlos Ramos, Jose Luis Sardon and Augusto Ferrero – and three voted against the measure: Manuel Miranda, Marielena Ledesma and Eloy Espinoza Saldaña.
In the face of the controversy sparked as soon as the court decision emerged, Blume admitted that this was a “an important case that is drawing the attention of the entire Peruvian and foreign community,” but the decision was taken after “broad debate, in a high-minded manner, calmly and without constraint.”
With its ruling, he said, the TC declared null and void three earlier judicial rulings by lower courts that had ratified the preventive detention ordered for Fujimori on Oct. 30, 2018.
Thus, the TC ordered that “things revert to the situation before the nullified rulings and that (Fujimori) be immediately released.”
After asserting that the measure had been based both on the Peruvian Constitution and on prevailing law, as well as on rulings by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Blume said that in Peru one must “be very careful; media justice is not justice.”
He added that “the only way” to confront corruption in Peru “is to undertake a constitutional struggle” and that “constitutional justice, like every authentic form of justice, does not subordinate itself to any political power, nor to the power of a bureaucracy or officials, and even less so to rumors created to shape public opinion in a certain way.”
The magistrate said that “basic and human rights are faceless” and the courts act “in accord with what the Constitution and the law mandate” and in defense of human rights.
“The rulings of the Constitutional Court are beyond all political power, and any actual power,” he asserted.
Blume noted that the TC “has not ruled on the underlying issue, in the case of ... Keiko Fujimori,” and – despite its ruling – “it has not declared her to be absolved or convicted.”
After reiterating that determining her guilt of innocence will be the “exclusive responsibility of the Judicial Branch, which the Constitutional Court scrupulously respects,” he added that the courts “are not washing their hands, and even less so acting in a cowardly way.”
The ruling was announced shortly after Fujimori on Monday invoked her right to keep silent when questioned within the framework of the investigation under way into alleged money laundering activities arguing that “the minimum guarantees of respect for due process are not in place.”
The questioning had been scheduled by prosecutor Jose Domingo Perez in the women’s prison in Lima, where Fujimori has been incarcerated for more than a year after the revelation that big private companies gave huge cash contributions to her Popular Force party for her 2011 presidential campaign.
Although Fujimori denied having received money illicitly from Odebrecht to finance her election campaigns, she did acknowledge that important Peruvian businessmen gave her large sums of money that she did not declare to the appropriate authorities because, she claimed, they had asked her not to divulge their identities.
The TC ruling was handed down with Peru preparing to hold legislative elections on January 26 after President Martin Vizcarra dissolved Congress amid a battle with legislators over his anti-graft campaign.
Fujimori’s Popular Force party had been in the majority in Congress before Vizcarra dissolved it.