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Peru's ex-spy chief guilty of disappearances

September 28, 2016

Human rights activists have hailed the conviction of Peru's former head of intelligence as a landmark decision. The former spy chief is considered the mastermind of a brutal crackdown on opposition in the early 1990s.

Vladimiro Montesinos gesturing in a courtroom
Image: Getty Images/AFP/J. Razuri

A Peruvian court on Tuesday convicted Peru's former spy chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, for his involvement in the forced disappearance of a professor and two students in 1993 amid a widespread crackdown in the South American nation.

Montesinos, along with the former army chief Nicholas Hermoza, received 22-year sentences for abducting the professor and students, and burning their bodies in an oven located in the basement of the army's intelligence division in Lima.

Human rights activists described the verdict as a milestone for justice, marking the first time a Peruvian court acknowledged that ex-President Alberto Fujimori's government had burned the bodies of its victims during a decade-long crackdown on dissent.

Montesinos is considered one of the masterminds behind Fujimori's bloody repression of his political opponents.

The former president's government largely accused opposition figures and activists of having links with the Shining Path, a Marxist group which launched a vicious insurgency against authorities in 1980, to justify its crackdown.

In 2009, a Peruvian court found Montesinos responsible for massacres of Fujimori's opponents committed in the early 1990s. The court sentenced the former spy chief to 25 years in prison.

On Tuesday, the court also sentenced the army's former intelligence chief, Jorge Nadal, in absentia for 15 years in prison, ordering his swift capture.

Peru's former president is serving a 25-year prison sentence for human rights abuses committed during his time in office.

Fujimori's presidency was characterized by grave human rights abuses
Fujimori's presidency was characterized by grave human rights abusesImage: Reuters

ls/kms (AP, AFP)

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