Fujimori says he is innocent of human rights violations, points finger at García and Belaunde Terry

By Annie Thériault

Former President Alberto Fujimori took the stand in his own defense Friday, tackling the prosecution’s allegations that he is guilty of sanctioning the Colina Group and of failing to prevent human rights violations committed during his 1990-2000 rule, and pointed fingers at Peru President Alan García and former President Fernando Belaunde Terry.

“Where is the proof that Fujimori created the Colina Group? Where is the proof that Fujimori conducted a dirty war? Where is the proof that “El Chino” is an assassin?” the former President said during his nationally televised testimony. “If García has not been charged for Los Cabitos, and Belaunde has not been charged for Putis, what difference is there with my case? Why should these two be innocent and Alberto Fujimori guilty? Why the double standard?”

Fujimori, 70, and his lawyer, César Nakazaki, have both repeatedly argued that it would inconsistent to convict his client of human rights abuses, while García and Belaunde Terry were never charged for alleged crimes committed during their respective governments.

In 2003, Peru’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission determined that García was held politically — not criminally — responsible for abuses perpetrated by the military during his first 1985-1990 term. On the grounds of Los Cabitos military base, which served as a torture and extrajudicial execution center during the internal conflict, more than 95 bodies, including those of children, have so far been recovered. Other military massacres perpetrated during his watch include the1985 torture and murder of 69 Indian peasants in Accomarca in Peru’s southern Andes, and the massacre of 29 peasants in Cayara village in 1988.

Peru’s Constitutional Tribunal is reviewing a judicial decision to close the trial of those responsible for the murder of more than 100 suspected terrorists in Lima’s El Frontón prison in 1986. Its ruling will determine whether charges can be brought against García, who ordered the intervention, and his Vice President and former Vice Admiral Luis Giampietri, who took part in the military operation to put down the prison riot.

In December 1984, during Belaunde’s presidency, 123 men, women and children were summarily executed by soldiers from the military base of Putis. After the massacre, the military stole the villagers’ cattle and other livestock and sold them for profit.

“I am not a lawyer, but I have studied the law,” said Fujimori on Friday. “I have done so not in order to defend myself, but to thoroughly understand why I am being accused. During the 160 sessions, 90 witnesses, 500 documents and 20 audiovisual presentations, I have tried to decipher exactly where one could point to my participation in these crimes, or the alleged motivation I would have had to commit them.”

“From a piece of ice, (the prosecution) has imagined an iceberg, from a spark, a fire, from a reunion, a criminal organization, from the word “eliminate” they’ve jumped to “assassinate” and they’ve deduced that because I was President and Commander-in-Chief, that I knew everything that was going on. However, there is not a single shred of evidence. In fact, there simply is no proof… and this trial is a racket.”

This trial has been motivated by “personal hate and politics, and this has impeded the prosecution from distinguishing between evidence and hate,” added Fujimori. “I am filled with pride for having returned Peru to peace, and have no regrets.”

Fujimori’s testimony puts an end to his 15-month marathon trial for human rights violations and allegedly sanctioning the Colina Group death squad, with a sentence expected on April 7, 2009. If convicted, he could face up to 30 years in prison, and a fine of $3 million.

The Colina group machine gunned 15 people, including an 8-year-old boy, in the courtyard of a tenement building in Lima’s Barrios Altos district in 1991 and kidnapped and murdered nine students and one professor at La Cantuta University in 1992 — two days after a car bomb ignited by Maoist Shining Path rebels killed more than 40 people in Lima.

So far, the prosecution has presented a mountain of circumstantial evidence — including hearsay testimony from ex-Colina Group members — to support its allegation that Fujimori was well aware of and authorized the death squad’s operations, and helped its members avoid real accountability through an Amnesty Law.

Fujimori enacted a controversial amnesty law in 1995 that exonerated all military, police and civilians for any human rights violations committed between May 1982 and June 1995 if they were associated to the counterinsurgency war. The law, argued to be necessary for “national reconciliation,” led to the release of those convicted for the La Cantuta and Barrios Altos massacres.

But in September 2001, the Human Rights Court, at the request of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, sentenced that Fujimori’s Amnesty Laws had no legal standing.

Fujimori has been held in Lima since he was extradited from Chile in September 2007 to face trial.

He is already serving a six-year prison term for abusing his authority when he ordered an illegal search of his spy chief’s apartments — allegedly to ensure that incriminating videotapes would never see the light of day. Fujimori pleaded guilty to the charge, offering a “sincere confession” in the hope it would earn him a lighter sentence.

Fujimori’s decade-old regime was crumbling under the weight of corruption scandals, spawned by his intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, when Fujimori sent military officers posing as court officials to Montesinos’ apartment building on Nov. 7, 2000. Using a fake search warrant, they seized more than 50 large suitcases and 50 boxes reportedly full of videotapes secretly recorded by Montesinos documenting the payoffs and dirty deals that had reinforced the regime’s hold on power.

But two days later, while Montesinos remained in hiding, Fujimori called a news conference in which only two suitcases, and an impressive array of diamond-encrusted watches and other luxury accessories, were on display.

Once Fujimori’s trial for human rights violations comes to an end, he will face another set of charges for corruption. Chile granted Peru’s request for Fujimori’s extradition in 2007 based on seven accusations, all of which form separate trials.

Sharing is caring!

Comments are closed.