Historic ruling on Accomarca

3 September 2016

In the early hours of 1 September, the long-running judicial process on the case of 73 campesinos brutally assassinated by the army in 1985 finally came to a conclusion. Jurors found the military commanders that gave the order guilty of murder, alongside the officers who implemented the order and some of the soldiers involved.

After six long years marred with delays and the mistreatment of surviving family members, the sentence has been hailed by human rights organisations and family members of the victims as a landmark ruling.

This is the first time that members of the military high command have been found guilty of the atrocities committed in the Ayacucho Emergency Zone and given long sentences. Commanding General Wilfredo Mori Orzo was convicted for having given the order to execute the massacre. He was the military/political commander in Ayacucho at the time. His conviction was only possible thanks to the testimony of Major Telmo Hurtado (aka ‘the butcher of the Andes’) who decided to provide a full confession after the army sought to attribute him with sole blame for the atrocity. http://noticiasser.pe/01/09/2016/editorial/accomarca-sentencia-historica

The massacre took place in August 1985, shortly after Alan García took office as president. Everyone who was at the town at the time was killed, including the elderly and children as young as three. All the women were raped before being killed, including three who were pregnant. The soldiers forced the villagers to stand in line, and then shot them and burned their bodies amid desperate cries for mercy. Two 12-year old girls, Teófila Ochoa Lizarbe and Cirila Pulido Baldeón witnessed the atrocity.

In 1993, a military court convicted Telmo Hurtado for abuse of authority and for giving false statements relating to the massacre. He then received an amnesty during the Fujimori regime and fled to Florida in 2002. While in custody there for an immigration infraction in 2007, the two survivors filed a lawsuit that led to his extradition to Peru in 2011.

Although currently Hurtado is the only man held in custody, human rights organisations, as well as the family members of the victims, have hailed this as a landmark ruling.

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