Amnesty International Against Grupo Colina Court Ruling

Amnesty International has called the Peruvian Supreme Court’s recent decision to reduce the prison sentence of members of a paramilitary death squad as “a grave reversal” for human rights in the Andean nation.

“This decision could set a worrying precedent for the fulfillment of justice for victims and their families who have suffered human rights violations and who have fought to obtain justice for decades,” the global activist group said, according to state news agency Andina.

On Friday, Peru’s Supreme Court, led by Justice Javier Villa Stein, reduced the prison sentence for members of the Grupo Colina, arguing that the killing of 25 people in the early 1990s was not a “crime against humanity.”

The group’s leader, former military officer Santiago Martin Rivas, saw his sentence reduced from 25 to 22 years, while other members also saw their sentences shortened. One member of the squad, Alberto Pinto, sentenced to 13 years, was released on Monday, while others will eligible for reduced sentences for good behavior or working in prison.

Vladimiro Montesinos, Peru’s shadowy former spy chief, also had his sentence reduced to 20 years, from 25 years.

Amnesty International’s comments on Tuesday join a growing choir of scathing criticism of the court’s ruling from analysts, scholars and politicians, including President Ollanta Humala and his new cabinet chief, Juan Jimenez.

The Grupo Colina, wearing masks, 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, tortured and murdered nine students and one professor at La Cantuta University in 1992.

The killings occurred during the state’s offensive against Shining Path rebels, which were equally bloody in their indiscriminant targeting and killing of frequently poor peasants and villagers who opposed the Maoist-inspired ideology of its leader, Abimael Guzman.

The Supreme Court’s argument, under the presidency of Judge Javier Villa Stein, to annull the qualification of crime against humanity against the Grupo Colina was that the squad were acting as part of a chain of command within the army and that they were fighting terrorists.

The killings occurred during the administration of former President Alberto Fujimori, who is also serving jail time for human rights crimes.

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  1. Didn’t notice Amnesty International censuring MRTA and SL when those TERRORISTS massacred almost 50,00 peruanos….men, women, children….????

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