Peru: dirty war cases back in the news

Retired Peruvian Gen. Jorge Aquiles Carcovich Cortelezzi, now serving as chief of the firearms control agency DICSCAMEC, is being investigated by the special human rights prosecutor for Ayacucho region, Andrés Cáceres Ortega, for his involvement in the massacre of 25 schoolchildren and five campesinos by a military patrol in the village of Umasi (Canaria district, Fajardo province) on Nov. 27, 1983.

According to witness testimony, then-captain Carcovich ordered the patrol to fire grenades on the Umasi schoolhouse, which had been taken over by Sendero Luminoso guerillas and was being used to house the children, who had been forcibly recruited by a guerilla column and marched at gunpoint from their homes in the village of Raccaya. In the blaze caused by the grenades, several children were wounded, and all fled the schoolhouse, to be apprehended by the soldiers. The children, men and women (presumably, the children’s guerilla minders) were separated; the women and several young gilrs were raped before all were summarily shot. The bodies were buried in three mass graves, which were exhumed by forensic workers in December of last year. (La Republica, March 11) This is the latest of several mass graves exhumed by investigators in Ayacucho.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica has meanwhile opened proceedings against the Peruvian state concerning presumed extrajudicial executions that took place during Operation “Chavín de Huántar,” the 1997 hostage rescue mission at the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Lima, which had been seized by guerillas of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA).

The case was brought by family members of late MRTA guerilla Eduardo Cruz Sánchez AKA “Tito,” who allege that he was not killed in combat as the government claimed, but that he and two other guerillas were summarily executed after soldiers had re-taken the residence.

Charges within Peru‘s justice system related to the affair are still pending against Vladimiro Montesinos, then chief of the intelligence services. (La Republica, Feb. 23)

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