Peru shows off captured rebel leader
LIMA, Peru (AP) - Behind a thick shield of bulletproof glass, Peruvian
authorities unveiled Monday the Maoist Shining Path rebels' top leader,
captured last week in a military sweep.
Military authorities dimmed the lights and in a show of political theater
brought Ramirez Durand, alias "Comrade Feliciano," out onto a brightly lit
red-carpeted stage. A garish red curtain served as a backdrop.
The presentation in a Supreme Military Justice Council auditorium was the
first extended look Peruvians got of Ramirez Durand, who had become
Peru's most-wanted fugitive, eluding capture for years.
Brief television images of a hooded Ramirez Durand on a plane headed to
Lima after his capture were broadcast last week. The hood was later pulled
President Alberto Fujimori said he ordered Monday's presentation to show
human rights groups that the 46-year-old guerrilla leader had not been
mistreated since his capture Wednesday in Peru's rugged central highlands.
Ramirez Durand appeared calm but haggard, dressed neatly in a blue shirt,
dark cardigan sweater and gray slacks. He raised his right fist in the air eight
times in an apparent rebel salute during the 30-minute presentation.
Limping from an old bullet wound, he walked back and forth across the
stage with his head down and hands clasped behind his back. Local
journalists screamed questions at him, but he said nothing.
Military authorities did not dress Ramirez Durand in the cartoon-like striped
black and white prison uniforms worn by accused Shining Path rebels during
similar presentations in the past, often before their trials.
The famous image of Shining Path founder Abimael Guzman pacing inside a
four-sided circus cage, fiercely shouting rebel slogans, stood in contrast to
Ramirez Durand, who made no statement, instead casting several imploring
gazes to his jailers to end the spectacle.
Andean folk music played over a loudspeaker and white-shirted waiters
waded through the 200 journalists and photographers present, offering
snacks and soda.
The capture of Ramirez Durand was trumpeted by Fujimori as a mortal blow
to the Shining Path, whose power has been plummeting since Guzman's
capture in 1992.
Ramirez Durand was considered the last top rebel leader still at large.
Military analysts said that although his capture was a major blow to the
group, it was not as important and Guzman's detention. Peru's war against
leftist rebels has left 30,000 dead since 1980.