August 30, 1999

Peru military tribunal hands rebel leader life sentence

                  LIMA, Peru (AP) -- A military tribunal handed a life sentence on Monday to the
                  top leader of the Maoist rebel group Shining Path.

                  Oscar Ramirez Durand, alias "Comrade Feliciano" -- for years Peru's most-wanted
                  fugitive -- was found guilty of treason in a closed military trial, the Supreme Military
                  Justice Council said in a statement.

                  Ramirez Durand, 46, was considered the last top rebel leader still at large before he
                  was captured July 14 in the rugged highlands 125 miles east of the capital, Lima.

                  He will serve his life sentence without chance of parole in a high security
                  prison for guerrilla leaders located at a naval base in Lima -- where the
                  group's founder, Abimael Guzman, also is imprisoned.

                  Guzman's capture in a Lima safe house in 1992 largely derailed the Shining
                  Path's destructive war against the government.

                  The group had as many as 10,000 armed fighters in the early 1990s, but is
                  now believed to have fewer than 1,000 combatants.

                  Two men and four women captured in the two-week military sweep that
                  netted Ramirez Durand also received sentences Monday ranging from 15
                  years to 30 years.

                  Military units are still searching for a regional guerrilla leader known as
                  "Comrade Artemio," who controls hundreds of armed fighters in the jungle
                  region of the Huallaga Valley.

                  Peru's war against leftist rebels has left 30,000 dead since 1980.