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Peruvian Court OKs Prison Release for Ex-President Fujimori 

FILE - Peru's former President Alberto Fujimori arrives in court during the sentencing in his trial on charges of embezzling state funds to manipulate the media during his tenure as president, in Lima, Peru, Jan. 8, 2015.

Peru's Constitutional Court on Thursday approved the release from prison of former President Alberto Fujimori, who is serving a 25-year sentence for murder and corruption charges.

The decision restored a humanitarian pardon granted to Fujimori on Christmas Eve in 2017 by then-President Pablo Kuczynski, a court official told The Associated Press. The official couldn't be quoted by name because the person was not authorized to speak on the matter.

The country's Supreme Court overturned the medical pardon in 2018 and ordered the former strongman returned to jail to serve out his sentence for human rights abuses, which was supposed to run until February 10, 2032.

Kuczynski had said he pardoned Fujimori because he suffered from a heart condition made worse by prison conditions, though the move was widely seen as an attempt to stave off impeachment by courting favor with Fujimori's allies in Congress. Kuczynski resigned three months after the pardon.

People gathered outside the prison hoping to see the 83-year-old Fujimori exit, though authorities gave no indication his release was imminent. Fujimori's lawyer, Cesar Nakazaki, said the former leader was not expected to leave prison until Monday or Tuesday after some legal procedures are completed.

President Pedro Castillo tweeted Thursday that "the international justice bodies to which Peru is attached must safeguard the effective exercise of justice for the people."

Prime Minister Aníbal Torres said the ruling harms the country but will be followed. Torres told a local radio station that the court was being "a champion of impunity for major criminals."

The Constitutional Court typically livestreams its decisions but did not do so in this case. It also did not give an explanation for its ruling.

Fujimori, who governed from 1990 to 2000, remains a polarizing figure in the Andean country. Some Peruvians laud him for defeating the Maoist Shining Path guerrilla movement, while others loathe him for human rights violations carried out under his government.