Peru: Montesinos on trial for MRTA killings

Former Peruvian presidential adviser Vladimiro Montesinos Torres, former Armed Forces commander Gen. Nicolas Hermoza Rios and retired colonel Roberto Edmundo Huaman Azcurra went on trial on May 17 for the alleged extrajudicial killings of three members of the rebel Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) during the military’s assault on the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Lima on April 22, 1997. Prosecutors were seeking a 20-year prison sentence for Montesinos, intelligence adviser to former president Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000), 18 years for Hermoza Rios and 15 for Huaman Azcurra. The trial was being held at the Callao naval base, near Lima.

The rebels held 72 hostages at the ambassador’s residence for five months after seizing the building during a party on Dec. 17, 1996. In the April 22 operation, codenamed “Chavin de Huantar,” Peruvian special forces stormed the residence, rescuing 71 hostages and killing one. Two soldiers were killed, along with all 14 rebels. Several hostages reported seeing soldiers capture three of the rebels and lead them away; they were later found dead. (EFE, May 18)

As part of Montesinos’ defense, his lawyer, Estela Valdivia, presented a video made by Fujimori in which the ex-president took credit for Chavin de Huantar. Montesinos claims that Fujimori was the only one in charge during the assault. (La Republica, Lima, May 26) Meanwhile, Montesinos is facing new corruption charges, following Panama’s agreement to send information on bank accounts Montesinos and his associates maintained there, reportedly to hold proceeds from illegal arms sales. (LR, June 2) Fujimori remains in Chile while Peru pursues a request for his extradition on charges of fraud, embezzlement and human rights violations. Chilean Supreme Court prosecutor Monica Maldonado is reportedly planning to release a recommendation the week of June 4. (El Diario-La Prensa, June 3 from EFE)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 3

For more on the MRTA see WW4 REPORT #s 46 and 27

For more on the trials of Vladimir Montesinos see WW4 REPORT #95

See our last post on Peru.

  1. Fujimori under house arrest
    Former Peruvian president Fujimori has been placed under house arrest in Chile after a Chilean prosecutor recommended he be extradited to Peru. Chile’s Supreme Court has yet to rule on the recommendation. If extradited to Peru he will face charges of human rights abuses and corruption.

    Fujimori arrived in Chile in 2005, in what some saw as a possible attempt to return to Peru and seek office there in 2006. He was placed under house arrest for six months in Chile, but authorities lifted the restriction last year on condition he not leave the country. He lives in an exclusive Santiago suburb.

    Fujimori had served as Peru’s president for 10 years when he fled in 2000 to Japan, where he holds dual citizenship. He attempted to resign from the presidency by fax, but Peru’s Congress refused to accept it, declaring him morally unfit to govern. Japan refused to honor Peru’s request to return him for trial, pointing out the lack of an extradition treaty between the two countries. (Press TV, June 10)

  2. More on Fujimori ruling
    From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 10:

    In a 51-page report released on June 7, Chilean Supreme Court prosecutor Monica Maldonado recommended that Chile honor Peru’s request for the extradition of former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000). After fleeing Peru and spending five years of exile in Japan, Fujimori arrived in Chile on a private plane in November 2005; the Chilean authorities promptly arrested him on an international warrant from Peru. Fujimori was released from jail in May 2006 and was put under house arrest while the extradition request was processed.

    Maldonado supported eight of the extradition request’s 10 corruption charges and both of the request’s two charges of human rights violationsā€”for the deaths of a total of 25 people in operations by the Colina paramilitary commando in Barrios Altos in 1991 and at La Cantuta University in 1992. Maldonado called the evidence “devastating.” Action on the extradition now depends on Judge Orlando Alvarez, who was on a 10-day medical leave; the process is expected to take several more months. The Chilean government says it has taken measures to make sure Fujimori won’t flee the country or seek asylum in the Japanese embassy. (El Diario-La Prensa, NY, June 8 from AP)

  3. Fujimori extradition blocked
    From Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 15:

    In a surprise decision, on July 11 Judge Orlando Alvarez of the Chilean Supreme Court of Justice ruled against Peru’s request for the extradition of former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000). The judge rejected all 12 of the extradition request’s charges against Fujimoriā€”10 for corruption and two for human rights violationsā€”saying that some charges weren’t valid under Chilean law and others weren’t substantiated. Alvarez’s decision isn’t final; the Supreme Court’s Second Criminal Court, composed of five judges, will give the final verdict. Fujimori remains under house arrest in a luxury residence in northern Santiago.

    Supreme Court prosecutor Monica Maldonado had strongly supported all of Peru’s charges on June 7. Chilean president Michelle Bachelet characterized as absurd reports that her government pressured the judge to reject the request. But human rights advocate Hugo Gutierrez didn’t dismiss the possibility of a political deal, and some people noted that Judge Alvarez had been reluctant to bring former dictator Gen. August Pinochet to trial. (La Jornada, Mexico, July 12 from correspondent and unidentified wire services)