Wuille Ruiz Figueroa's long wait for freedom ended June 6 when Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori granted him a full pardon. Ruiz, an evangelical Christian, served more than five years in Lima's maximum security Castro Castro prison (CT, Feb. 9, 1998, p. 94).
Ruiz, a Methodist and law-school graduate, had been arrested in February 1993 for possessing subversive propaganda, an accusation he firmly denied. Six months later, a "faceless" judge found him guilty and sentenced him to 20 years.
His first action as a free man involved visiting the graves of his mother and mother-in-law, both of whom died during his imprisonment. Ruiz also took a long walk with his daughter, Esteli, who was an infant at the time of his arrest.
Open Doors, a ministry that provides Bibles, training, and encouragement to persecuted Christians, launched several prayer and awareness campaigns for Ruiz, who organized a church inside his cellblock.
Eleven other Christians also received pardons on June 6.
Many Peruvian Christians have become outspoken critics of the Fujimori government's pursuit of terrorists at the expense of constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. According to some estimates, since 1992 Peru's courts have sent more than 4,000 men and women to prison for terrorist crimes. Experts estimate that as many as a quarter of those in prison are innocent of the crimes of which they are accused. About 90 of these prisoners are evangelical Christians.1