Peru’s former army intelligence chief: military provided assistance to death squad

The former head of the Army’s Intelligence Service, SIE, testified yesterday during the human rights trial of jailed ex-President Alberto Fujimori that the SIE provided arms and military equipment to an elite unit he believes was the Colina group death squad in the early 1990’s.

Col. Víctor Raúl Silva Mendoza denied the Colina group was created by the former head of the Armed Forces Joint Command, Nicolás de Bari Hermoza Ríos. He testified the paramilitary group was formed by Gen. Juan Rivero Lazo, the head of the Army’s Intelligence Office, Dinte, who sent him a written order in August 1991 to support the Colina group, daily El Comercio reported.

“He said that, at the request of the head of operations, the SIE should provide personnel, arms, ammunition, and equipment, and that’s what we did,” said Silva.

After the 1991 Barrios Altos massacre, which left 15 people dead, including an eight-year-old boy, Silva said he questioned Rivero about the military’s involvement in the extrajudicial killings. According to Silva, Rivera told him not to “cause any problems, just say you don’t know anything.”

Fujimori is accused of authorizing the Colina group to execute 15 people in Lima’s Barrios Altos district in 1991 and nine students and one professor at La Cantuta University in 1992, suspected of having ties to the Maoist Shining Path insurgency. He faces 30 years in prison if convicted.

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