Search for La Cantuta massacre victims resumes

01 August 2013

Twenty years after the first bodies were found from La Cantuta massacre, the search for the remaining five victims has begun. The step follows a lengthy campaign by their relatives and a 2006 judgement by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR), which called on the Peruvian authorities to exhaust all avenues in locating the remains.

Nine students and a professor from La Cantuta University were abducted and executed by La Colina death squad in July 1992. The victims were suspected of involvement in the bombing on Tarata Street in Lima two days previously. Some of their bodies were found the following year in Cieneguilla, east of Lima, but since then the authorities haved failed to authorise further searches of the area. In 2009, former president Alberto Fujimori was convicted of ordering the killings.

“Justice gave me some peace, but I won’t rest until I find my son,” said Raida Cóndor, whose son Armando was among the victims, in a recent comment to La Republica.

Last month the public prosecutor agreed with the national forensic anthropology team on new searches in Cieneguilla and in mid-July the prosecutor who will oversee the operation was appointed.

The victims’ lawyer Gloria Cano from the Aprodeh human rights orgaisation welcomed the move but noted that other aspects of the ruling by the IACHR had stillremained to be implemented. “They have not paid reparations … The trial of Martin Rivas [chief of operations for the death squad] and others is still outstanding,” she said.

Recent weeks also saw some progress towards justice for the worst massacre committed during Peru’s internal conflict. In late June, a judge ordered that legal proceedings should begin against the Sendero Luminoso’s second-in-command, Osmán Morote. On 16 July 1984, 117 people were killed by senderista guerrillas in the central highlands district of Soras, Ayacucho. No one has been convicted of the killings.

Since mid-July, the remains of over 100 senderistas have also been exhumed from cemeteries in the Lima area as part of an investigation into the killing of more than 200 inmates in 1986. The prisoners were killed despite surrendering after riots at the Lurigancho, Santa Barbara and El Fronton prisons.

 

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