El Frontón: justice awaits

10 October 2016

Thirty years after the extra-judicial killing of 133 prisoners at the island detention centre of El Frontón, six officers and 29 ordinary sailors face trial. While judicial procedures have been attempted before, they have always been halted before sentencing took place. The prosecuting attorney on the case, Luz Ibañez Carranza, has asked for sentences of between 25 and 30 years for those accused. http://larepublica.pe/impresa/politica/809365-arranca-proceso-35-ex-marinos-por-matanza-en-el-fronton

The so-called ‘massacre’ at El Frontón took place following a mutiny by members of Sendero Luminoso on 19 June 1986. The naval authorities are alleged to have killed many prisoners in cold blood after they had surrendered. They are said to have used “disproportional force” that included blowing up the penetentiary with inmates inside and shooting in the back others who had been ordered to run on the beach. The remains of those killed are thought to have been secretly buried in various locations in and around Lima.
El Frontón is a small island offshore from Callao. It was rebuilt as a prison for Sendero inmates during the second government of Fernando Belaunde (1980-85). An earlier prison on the island, notorious for its inhumane regime, had been demolished; it had long been used to house political prisoners.

The long-running case has been highly contentious, involving punishing military officers for the conduct of the counter-insurgency struggle against Sendero Luminoso in the 1980s. Following the destruction of El Frontón, the case was mothballed by military courts. Long after, in 2001, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered the Peruvian government to reopen the case and to identify, try and punish those responsible for the killings. It also demanded that the families of the dead prisoners to be given the remains of their loved-ones for proper burial.

Those now accused are those who are thought to have been directly involved in the operation to quell the mutiny. The ‘intellectual authors’ of the operation that took place during the first government of Alan García have not been brought to book. There have been calls for García to be tried. So far he has been asked to act as a witness since the armed forces were under his command at the time. It remains to be seen if he will ever be held accountable. http://diariouno.pe/2016/10/09/garcia-debe-responder-por-homicidio-calificado/

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