By Ángel Páez
Vladimiro Montesinos to enter the court
Credit: Courtesy of La República
LIMA, Oct. 2 (IPS) - "My son Javier received eight bullets, one for each year he had. Such pain can not be erased with a sentence," he told IPS Rosa Rojas, a relative of two victims of the slaughter of Barrios Altos in 1991 in Peru, the main perpetrators were sentenced this week.
Former intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos and former army chief Nicolas Hermoza, number two and three respectively in the regime of former president Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000), were on Friday sentenced to 25 years in prison for having authorized the formation of a secret command that executed 25 people.
For their part, Julio Salazar retired generals, former head of the National Intelligence Service, and Juan Rivero, former head of the Army Intelligence Directorate, received identical sentences.
Santiago Martin Rivas, the army major who led the death squad known as the "Colina Group" and Major Carlos Pichilingüe, who acted as his right hand, also purged 25 years in prison.
On April 7, 2009, Fujimori was sentenced to 25 years in prison and mastermind of the crimes committed by the squadron.
Montesinos had pleaded guilty to the charges, but during the trial it was proved that the murders directly coordinated with Martin Rivas.
Fujimori's former aide in 2006 had been sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in smuggling guns to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 1999. However, Peruvian law does not consider cumulative years' imprisonment.
The First Special Criminal Court presiding Judge Inés Villa concluded that 19 former senior officials and planned, approved and consummated the killing of 15 civilians in the Lima neighborhood of Barrios Altos (November 3, 1991), nine local farmers El Santa, located six hours north of Lima (May 2, 1992), and opposition journalist Pedro Yauri (June 24, 1992).
According to the ruling in the Callao Naval Base, where he set up the court for security reasons, the Fujimori government encouraged the formation of an "elite commando" agents of the Army Intelligence Service to carry out retaliatory actions every time the Maoist Shining Path organization committed attacks.
The court found that none of the victims was a member of Sendero Luminoso, as the defense argued the military to justify the murders.
"We are pleased with the sentences, but not happy. Nothing relieved the pain within us," Rojas told IPS Rosa, wife of Manuel Rios, 31, and mother, Jesus Rios, eight years, both killed in Barrios Altos. "Finally justice was done. It took many years but finally came," he added.
"Manuel and I were selling candy. Javier was our oldest son. We had two more girls. I was the day he entered the murderers and shot to kill. They were very cruel," he said.
For the killing of a professor and nine students from the University of La Cantuta, perpetrated by the same death squad on 18 July 1992, a group of agents had been convicted two years ago, and the fate of other accused is pending
For the crimes of Barrios Altos, the Santa and Peter Yauri, the First Criminal Court sentenced the former members of the squad to terms of between 15 and 20 years in prison.
The lawyer for the families of the victims of Barrios Altos, Gloria Cano, of the nongovernmental Human Rights Association, spoke broadly in line with the ruling, although he made some inquiries.
"We're not satisfied with the acquittal of retired Colonel Victor Silva, former Chief of Army Intelligence," he told IPS. "He was charged with providing weapons and logistics for the group committed the murders. The defense will request the annulment of the decision in relation to Silva."
Cano also said that police officers benefited from the legal form of a sincere confession and that this mechanism will be reduced the sentence from 25 to 15 years or less.
"We believe that this confession is not complete because the former officers who participated in the murders of journalist Pedro Yauri and nine farmers from the Santa did not reveal the location of the burial of bodies," said Cano.
"While the bodies remain missing, the families continue to suffer. They did not deserve a reduced sentence because they have not told the whole truth," he added.
The sentencing was scheduled for Friday morning, but the court suspended Montesinos and the military because they sang the hymn of the Army, in defiance of justice.
The hearing was rescheduled for the afternoon, and Montesinos used the presence of the press to be photographed with copies of their books, "Trail: Early Warning" and "Spy Chilean."
Jesus Sosa, a confessed serial murderer who executed a suspected members of Sendero Luminoso in order of their superiors, raised fist and cheered the army.
During the process, justifying the crimes the defendants on the grounds that they were "at war against terrorism."
Rosa Rojas told IPS that since she killed her husband and her eldest son suffered not only sadness, despair and anger at the lack of justice, but also harassment and threats of military to remain silent.
"I witnessed the events, so I was uncomfortable. They tried several times to hurt me and my daughters. There were many years unbearable, but we managed to live to see justice done," he said.
"But I can not say I'm happy and glad, because while the guilty will pay 25 years in prison, will receive the love of their parents, wives and children, while I have not got my husband or my son. I can never feel love from them. No sentence will bring them back alive, "said Rosa Rojas.
Eleven former officers were acquitted on several grounds. Several of those convicted said they would appeal. Now the record of long and tortuous legal process will pass to the Supreme Court to confirm, amend or reject the decision.
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