Also see: "PERU: US Govt. Document Links President García to 1980s Death Squads"
By CARLA SALAZAR
December 21, 2007
LIMA, Peru (AP) — Former president Alberto Fujimori, on trial for murder and kidnapping, apologized Friday for two death squad massacres that could land him in prison for 30 years.
Fujimori, 69, is accused of authorizing the 1991 military death-squad killings of 15 people, including an eight-year-old boy, in a tenement in Lima's Barrios Altos neighborhood as well as the 1992 slayings of nine students and a professor at La Cantuta University.
"I ask for forgiveness from all the victims," Fujimori said in court, responding to questioning from a lawyer representing victims' families. "It hurt my soul."
Fujimori has denied having any knowledge of the squad's activities, and has said he never authorized Vladimiro Montesinos, his now-jailed intelligence chief and a powerbroker in his autocratic regime, to lead a dirty war against the Shining Path rebels.
Fujimori's congresswoman daughter, Keiko, said that her father lamented the killings although he did not accept responsibility for them.
Victims' relatives said Fujimori's the apology came too late. Francisco Soberon, director of Peru's human rights group Aprodeh, called it "opportunistic."
Fujimori denied that he authorized human rights violations during his decade-long government.
Earlier this week, Fujimori defended his decision in 1995 to grant amnesty to human rights violators during his war against the Shining Path.
In 2000, Fujimori fled to Japan, where his parents were born, as his government collapsed amid a corruption scandal involving Montesinos. He flew to Chile in 2005 in an apparent attempt to stage a return to Peruvian politics.
Chile instead extradited him to Peru in September to stand trial on corruption and human rights abuse charges.