Peru's Congress gave a lifeline to former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori Thursday by voting to approve a bill, which would allow prisoners over the age of 65 to serve their sentences under house arrest and electronic surveillance.
If the bill, which was approved with 55 votes in favor, 30 against and two abstentions, is passed into law, it would create an opportunity for the 80-year-old ex-dictator to avoid a return to prison. Fujimori under the law would be allowed to apply for house arrest in lieu of serving his jail term, following the recent revocation of his presidential pardon.
Peru’s Supreme Court ordered the former president returned to prison due to irregularities found in the process used for the pardon that was granted to him.
The bill was tabled and approved with the help of votes from Fuerza Popular, the party led by Keiko Fujimori, Alberto Fujimori's daughter, who was recently detained due to an investigation into money laundering and illegal campaign financing. Fuerza Popular currently holds a majority in the Peruvian parliament.
The legislation seeks to establish a "modality of humanitarian execution of the sentence for seniors and people with severe disabilities who are facing custodial sentences," according to the Congress. The bill also stipulates mandatory attachment of an electronic surveillance device and restricted mobility of any beneficiary.
President Martin Vizcarra could either allow the bill to be passed into law or return it to Congress citing non-compliance with international legal standards after reviewing the details.
According to the bill, prisoners who have "fulfilled a third of their sentence" or are over 75 years old and suffer from a "serious or chronic accredited illness" could apply for clemency.
However, while the bill could grant clemency to Fujimori, not all prisoners of a similar age would benefit from the measure. A person charged and convicted of terrorism, treason, assassinations, femicide, drug trafficking or those belonging to a criminal organization won't be considered.
"If I return to prison, my heart will not endure it, it is too weak to go through the same thing again," the ex-dictator said in a video recording.
The ex-president has been detained and confined to a medical facility since the Peruvian Supreme Court annulled the humanitarian pardon issued to him last December by former President of Peru Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
Fujimori served 12 years of a 25-year prison term on charges of corruption and human rights abuse. The former Peruvian leader was sentenced to jail in 2009.
The Fujimori administration was rife with embezzlement of public funds, bribing businessmen and journalists, and human rights violations such as extrajudicial killings and forced sterilization of Indigenous peoples.