Shining Path leaders indicted in US court

Three leaders of Peru's Shining Path guerrilla movement were indicted July 1 in US District Court for the Southern District of New York. Those charged are Florindo Eleuterio Flores Hala, who was captured by Peruvian security forces in February 2012; and the brothers Victor and Jorge Quispe Palomino, who remain at large. The charges include conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization; narco-terrorism conspiracy; and two counts of use of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence. (Newsweek, July 2)

On the same day the indictments were announced, a retired National Police officer who headed the elite unit that captured Shining Path leader Abimael Guzmán in 1992 was himself arrested on corruption charges. Col. Benedicto Jiménez was detained in relation to an investigation of prominent businessman Rodolfo Orellana, who is accused of money laundering, trafficking in land titles, and illegal appropriation of public property. Peruvian authorities have initiated a nationwide search for Orellana, who remains at large. Jiménez runs a publication, Juez Justo, that specializes in attacks on jurists and journalists looking into the activities of Orellana, prosecutors say. (EFE, July 2)

Investigations remain ongoing into abuses from the 1980s and '90s, when the Shining Path movement was at its peak. Members of the government's Specialized Forensic Team are currently searching for the bodies of Ashaninka indigenous people believed to have been killed by the Shining Path at the community of Saigó, Pangoa province, Junín region. Iván Rivasplata, head of the forensics team, told the Associated Press: "This is the beginning of a search for the missing Ashaninka people, which has never been done before." The team has already found at least one body wearing traditional Ashaninka garb, and believes there are mass graves in the area, based in part on the testimony of survivors.

According to official investigations in Peru, some 10,000 Ashaninka people were forcibly displaced from their homes after the Shining Path were driven into their rainforest territory by the government's counterinsurgency campaign in the highlands. Another 6,000 were killed, and 5,000 were enslaved by the guerillas. (EFE, June 25; El Comercio, June 23; Peru This Week, June 10)