Head of Colina group testifies at Fujimori trial

The former head of the Colina group death squad, Maj. Santiago Martin Rivas, testified Wednesday at the human rights trial of jailed ex-President Alberto Fujimori that the existence of the paramilitary group is a fabrication made in order to discredit Peru’s Armed Forces.

“For many years, selfish people have been creating, have been fabricating, the Colina group. On the basis of that, they have for years, for more than a decade, attacked and condemned the Armed Forces that defeated terrorism initiated by the Shining Path and MRTA guerrillas,” said Martin.

In interviews with journalist Umberto Jara seven years ago, Martin confessed to leading the Colina group, which was responsible for killing 25 people suspected of collaborating with the Shining Path insurgency in the early 1990’s. He also told Jara that Fujimori and his advisor, Vladimiro Montesinos, were aware of the Colina groups killings.

During Fujimori’s trial, Martin reportedly said his interview with Jara was “a farce and a hoax” he did in order to confront previous interrogations during judicial proceedings.

Jara told daily El Comercio today that Martin’s testimony was absurd. “No one pretends to be guilty, they would instead pretend to be innocent. How ridiculous.”

The Colina group killed 15 people in Lima’s Barrios Altos district in 1991 and nine students and one professor at La Cantuta University in 1992 who were suspected of collaborating with the Shining Path insurgency. Fujimori is accused of authorizing the killings. He faces 30 years in prison if convicted.

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