Death squad members sentenced for La Cantuta killings

22 November 2013

Three members of a military death squad that operated under former president Alberto Fujimori have been sentenced for murder and forced disappearance. Juan Vargas Chochoque, César Héctor Alvarado Salinas and Ángel Arturo Pino Díaz were given 22-year jail sentences for the 1992 killings of nine students and a professor from La Cantuta University.

The disappearances took place shortly after the Tarata bombing of Lima by Shining Path militants, and allegedly targeted those believed to be connected to it. When recovered, several of the bodies of the disappeared showed signs of torture.

The ruling on 19 November established that the defendants were part of the La Colina death squad. The judge also awarded damages of US $14,000 to the relatives of the victims. The court ordered the arrest of another Colina member, Aldo Velásquez Asencio.

Gisella Ortiz, the sister of one of the victims, welcomed the verdict and urged the judiciary to bring forward the trial of Fujimori’s spy chief, Vladimir Montesinos, for the case.

Eleven people were convicted of the killings in 1994 but were released the following year when amnesty was given to members of the military who had been convicted of human rights crimes. The secret military tribunal that heard the case cleared the military and intelligence services of any complicity. Following the end of the Fujimori regime, the amnesties were struck down. In 2009, Fujimori was convicted of human rights crimes, including responsibility for the Cantuta massacre, and corruption, and sentenced to 25 years in jail.

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