Peruvian prosecutors are looking into whether Ollanta Humala, Peru's president from 2011 to 2016, oversaw atrocities committed at the government's Madre Mia jungle base when he commanded the post in the 1980s and '90s.
Edith Chamorro, a special prosecutor for terrorism and rights cases, took on the investigation following recent media interviews with people who claim to have been Humala's victims at the base, Peru's Public Ministry announced late Friday. "The appearance of the new witnesses constitutes sufficient ground to begin a new investigation to establish who was responsible for the killings," the ministry reported. Chamorro will work "against those who turn out to be responsible" for torturing and the disappearance of hundreds of people in the region.
Jorge Avila told a newspaper that Humala had been the base's "Capitan Carlos" during the government's campaign against the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) and Shining Path. Humala acknowledges commanding the base at the time, but says he is not the notorious Carlos and that he did not participate in crimes against humanity. During the conflict, officers referred to one another with pseudonyms for their safety.
Humala's presidential path
Avila said soldiers from the Madre Mia base had tortured him and killed his brother and brother-in-law in 1992. He had made similar accusations against Humala in 2006, during the former officer's first run for the presidency, but ultimately recanted and in 2009 prosecutors shelved their probe into the military's rights violations for lack of evidence. Last week, Avila told local newspaper El Comercio that he had been given $4,500 (4,091 euros at today's exchange rate) in 2006 to recant the accusations he had made against Humala.
Leaked transcripts of recorded phone conversations published by the media in recent weeks suggest that Humala did indeed bribe torture victims to alter their testimony, which he has denied. Currently under investigation with his wife for embezzling and laundering campaign funds in 2006 and 2011, Humala welcomed the latest official inquiry into his family. "It is already a thing that has been judged," he said late Friday, "but clearly there is an interest in reopening everything."
Humala presented himself as the candidate of the center-left in his successful run for the presidency in 2011, but he shifted right during his term, which ended last year, pushing neoliberal policies. Humala also backed a law that made it a criminal offense to deny the Shining Path's role in Peru's civil war, which started in 1980 and left more than 69,000 people dead or disappeared by 2000. Last year, a fellow neoliberal, the former investment banker Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, succeeded Humala as president.
mkg/jlw (EFE, Reuters, dpa)