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LIMA, Peru — Alberto Fujimori, who as Peru’s leader in the 1990s revived the economy and crushed two violent leftist insurgencies, but was forced out in a corruption scandal and later imprisoned for human rights abuses, received a medical pardon on Sunday night, a decision that prompted an outcry across the Andean nation.
The Christmas Eve pardon was approved by President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who narrowly survived a bid by Congress on Thursday to remove him from office over allegations linking him to a graft scandal that has rattled Latin America.
Mr. Kuczynski overcame the effort to oust him by exploiting divisions in the main opposition party, which is led by his chief rival, Keiko Fujimori, Mr. Fujimori’s elder daughter. Ms. Fujimori, who lost by a slim margin to Mr. Kuczynski in a presidential runoff election in June of last year, had distanced herself from her father.
But a faction of her party — led by her younger brother, Kenji — split with Ms. Fujimori last week and abstained, denying Mr. Kuczynski’s enemies the supermajority needed to remove him. The younger brother had urged the pardon, so Mr. Kuczynski’s decision on Sunday was seen as a way of rewarding Kenji Fujimori for his help. The younger brother is viewed by some as more likable and a more promising face for the party, compared with his sister, who has twice failed to win the presidency.
Both Keiko and Kenji Fujimori issued statements praising the pardon.
Other opposition politicians immediately denounced it. Even Mr. Kuczynski’s former allies called the move troubling. Alberto de Belaunde, a congressman, said he would resign from Mr. Kuczynski’s party.
Mr. Fujimori, 79, would have remained in prison until age 93 if he had served his full sentence.
Suffering from arrhythmia, tongue cancer and other ailments, Mr. Fujimori had requested a humanitarian pardon. He was taken from his prison cell to a hospital on Friday after a drop in blood pressure, doctors said.
In a statement, Mr. Kuczynski’s office said that a medical board had determined “that Mr. Fujimori suffers from a progressive, degenerative and incurable disease and that the prison conditions mean a serious risk to his life, health and integrity.” The board’s conclusions were presented to a presidential pardon commission, which recommended that Mr. Fujimori and seven other inmates be pardoned “for humanitarian reasons.”