Former third man from the top of the Peruvian army hierarchy says Fujimori is guilty of sanctioning death squad

The former third highest ranking officer in Peru’s army testified yesterday that ex-President Alberto Fujimori is directly to blame for the Barrios Altos and La Cantuta massacres, carried out by the Colina group paramilitary death squad.

“The President of the Republic, in this case the accused, Fujimori, is the one who decides what type of war will be waged,” retired army Gen. Rodolfo Robles told the court. “That is why it is said that war is the continuation of politics via violent means.”

Robles’ testimony came 15 years to the day that he and his family sought refuge in the U.S. Embassy after blowing the whistle that Peru’s National Intelligence Service, or SIN, had formed the Colina group to eliminate Maoist Shining Path guerrillas and rebel sympathizers.

In retaliation, he was forced into retirement without benefits — accused of “serious disciplinary offenses against the military service, honor, decorum, and duty” — and, amid death threats, took up political asylum in Argentina.

At the time, Robles was chief of the Army Instruction School (COINDE) and former commander of the Third Military Region based in Arequipa.

In a May 5, 1993, open letter written by Robles and read aloud in a news conference by his wife, he revealed the names of the soldiers who made up the Colina group. He stated they had machine gunned 15 people, including an 8-year-old boy, in a squalid 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.

At the time, he identified Fujimori’s shadowy intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, and the Commander in Chief of the Army, General Nicolás de Bari Hermoza Ríos as the masterminds of the operations and of the subsequent cover-up.

But in his testimony Wednesday, Robles widened the circle of intrigue to include Fujimori.

“The Colina group acted under two lines of command: one, the Presidency of the Republic and the SIN, which were two sides of the same coin, and two, the administrative hierarchical line, which had to do with payments, personnel changes, disciplinary aspects, and other things,” he said.

To support his contention, Robles pointed to the Nov. 8, 1991, Legislative Decree Nº 746, formulated by Fujimori, which took control of the SIN away from the military and made it directly answerable to the president.

The Colina group’s operations “could not have been ordered by the Ministry of Defense, nor the Military Joint Chiefs of Staff, nor the ministries of agriculture or economy,” he said.

Robles added that Peru’s top military and police commanders made a pact of “submission” to report directly to Montesinos as a go-between to the president.

Retired Gen. Julio Salazar Monroe, then the formal chief of the SIN, was just a “front,” Robles said.

Salazar was sentenced last month to 35 years in prison for the Cantuta massacre by a judicial tribunal that established as a factual point that the Colina group operated with Fujimori’s consent — a verdict that has not yet been reached in the former president’s ongoing trial.

Robles’ testimony is scheduled to continue on Friday, when he will face cross-examination by Fujimori’s defense lawyer.

Sharing is caring!

Comments are closed.