Peru state attorney seeks Fujimori murder charges
By Jude Webber
LIMA, Peru, March
9 (Reuters) - Peru's disgraced ex-President Alberto Fujimori should
face murder charges over the alleged execution by commandos of 14 Marxist
rebels after a 1997 hostage siege, a state attorney said on Friday.
"(We have) information regarding how post-mortems were conducted on the dead MRTA rebels, which in our opinion could corroborate accusations of extrajudicial killings," assistant state attorney Ronald Gamarra told CPN radio.
He was referring to
the deaths of 14 Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement
(MRTA) rebels during a military
assault ordered by Fujimori that ended a 126-day siege at the Japanese
All but one of the 72 VIP hostages were freed alive in what was hailed by many local and international media at the time as a daring raid by a fearless president.
Last year, Fujimori
was fired after fleeing to Japan last year amid a government corruption
scandal. Eventual human rights abuses charges against him would likely
crank up diplomatic pressure on Tokyo to extradite the ex-president for
Fujimori has dual Japanese and Peruvian citizenship. Tokyo does not extradite its nationals and has so far indicated it would be reluctant to hand him over.
Gamarra said unauthorized post-mortems plus reports by the United Nations, the U.S. State Department and rights groups, suggested rebels had been executed with a shot in the head. Peruvian prosecutors have ordered the exhumation of the rebels' bodies, expected to start on Monday.
Gamarra is one of a
team of attorneys led by state attorney Jose Ugaz investigating Fujimori's
fugitive ex-spy chief and chief aide, Vladimiro Montesinos, on charges
ranging from corruption to ordering death squads and torture.
He was speaking after Ugaz's office called for Fujimori, Montesinos, the then-head of the armed forces, Nicolas de Bari Hermoza, and the then-head of the intelligence services, Julio Salazar to face charges of murder and abuse of authority.
TRIUMPH AT THE TIME
The commandos' raid
- after which a beaming Fujimori sped through Lima in a bus packed with
freed hostages was seen in 1997 as a triumph, bolstering his hard-line
stance against unpopular leftist groups.
Fujimori won popularity for crackdowns on rebels whose campaigns brought Peru to its knees in the 1980s and early 1990s, but Peru gained one of Latin America's worst human rights records under his 1990-2000 rule.
He has denied the rebels
were executed, saying they died in an initial blast set off by the commandos
or were killed later fighting troops, many of whom swarmed into the residence
from tunnels dug under the mansion during the siege."The exhumation of
the bodies next week will shed new light on how these MRTA rebels died,"
Gamarra said. "What the state attorney's office has done is make available
to the judicial authorities a series of matters which have the likely appearance
of a crime.
On this basis, it will be up to the prosecutor to conduct preliminary investigations to confirm or rule out extrajudicial executions," he added.
MRTA family members
decided to bring a case alleging extrajudicial killings after Hidetaka
Ogura, a Japanese embassy employee who was held hostage, told media he
had seen three rebels alive and tied up in the garden after the raid. Ogura's
allegations echoed others made within days of the assault that two rebels
were executed with "coup de grace" shots and at least one begged to surrender
before being shot.
The execution reports suggested a possible breach of international practices on taking of prisoners, committed on what was seen as Japanese sovereign soil. Media have speculated that if charged, Fujimori could face prosecution in Japan.