Survivor of Barrios Altos massacre testifies at Fujimori trial

The only survivor of the Barrios Altos massacre testified today at the human rights trial of jailed ex-President Alberto Fujimori. Tomás Livia Ortega was paralyzed when the Colina group death squad killed 15 people, including his wife, during a barbecue in a tenement in Lima’s Barrios Altos district in 1991.

According to Agencia Andina, Livia testified the Colina group entered the tenement dressed in black and wearing balaclavas to hide their identity. He said he recognized Major Santiago Martín Rivas, the head of the paramilitary group, when he showed his face. The gunmen believed Livia  was dead. Rivas “was the only one that had his face uncovered,” said Livia. “For a long time I have accused him.”

Fujimori, 69, is charged with, among other things, authorizing the state-sponsored Colina group to carry out the Barrios Altos massacre and the 1992 killing of nine students and one professor at La Cantuta University.

During trial proceedings on Wednesday, Fujimori testified under questioning by his defense lawyer, César Nakasaki, that it was the military that bore  responsibility for the human rights violations during Peru’s internal conflict with Shining Path and MRTA guerrillas, not him.

“The counter-terrorist strategy was designed by the military,” said Fujimori. “I was not a soldier. I indicated guidelines and directives, but I didn’t say how to execute them.”

He added “the political maneuvering is the responsibility of the president. The responsibility of the strategy and the operations is with the president of the military’s joint command.”

The founder of the Legal Defense Institute, Ernesto de la Jara, told Radio San Borja yesterday “what would the military say now faced with Fujimori? They have always attacked the NGOs, accusing them of discrediting the Armed Forces and now the former president, who had the central responsibility in 1992 and who is looking to avoid his former adviser of implicating him more, is saying that it was the military.”

De la Jara added “he doesn’t even have the courage, the grandeur, the dignity to accept the consequences of his actions.”

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