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 trials of Vladimir Montesinos see WW4 REPORT #95
See our last post on Peru.