Peru state attorney seeks Fujimori murder charges
LIMA, Peru (Reuters) -- Peru's disgraced ex-President Alberto Fujimori
face murder charges over the alleged execution by commandos of 14 Marxist
rebels after a 1997 hostage siege, a state attorney said on Friday.
"(We have) information regarding how post-mortems were conducted on the
dead MRTA (Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement) rebels, which in our
opinion could corroborate accusations of extrajudicial killings," assistant state
attorney Ronald Gamarra told CPN radio.
He was referring to the deaths of 14 MRTA rebels during a military assault
ordered by Fujimori that ended a 126-day siege at the Japanese ambassador's
All but one of the 72 VIP hostages were freed alive in what was hailed
local and international media at the time as a daring raid by a fearless president.
Last year, Fujimori was fired after fleeing to Japan last year amid a government
corruption scandal. Eventual human rights abuse charges against him would
likely crank up diplomatic pressure on Tokyo to extradite the ex-president for
Fujimori has dual Japanese and Peruvian citizenship. Tokyo does not extradite
nationals and has so far indicated it would be reluctant to hand him over.
Gamarra said unauthorized post-mortems plus reports by the United Nations,
U.S. State Department and rights groups, suggested rebels had been executed
with a shot in the head.
Peruvian prosecutors have ordered the exhumation of the rebels' bodies,
expected to start Monday.
Gamarra is one of a team of attorneys led by state attorney Jose Ugaz
investigating Fujimori's fugitive ex-spy chief and chief aide, Vladimiro
Montesinos, on charges ranging from corruption to ordering death squads and
He was speaking after Ugaz's office called for Fujimori, Montesinos, the
then-head of the armed forces, Nicolas de Bari Hermoza, and the then-head of
the intelligence services, Julio Salazar to face charges of murder and abuse of
Triumph at the time
The commandos' raid -- after which a beaming Fujimori sped through Lima
bus packed with freed hostages -- was seen in 1997 as a triumph, bolstering his
hard-line stance against unpopular leftist groups.
Fujimori won popularity for crackdowns on rebels whose campaigns brought
Peru to its knees in the 1980s and early 1990s, but Peru gained one of Latin
America's worst human rights records under his 1990-2000 rule.
He has denied the rebels were executed, saying they died in an initial
blast set off
by the commandos or were killed later fighting troops, many of whom swarmed
into the residence from tunnels dug under the mansion during the siege.
"The exhumation of the bodies next week will shed new light on how these
MRTA rebels died," Gamarra said.
"What the state attorney's office has done is make available to the judicial
authorities a series of matters which have the likely appearance of a crime. On
this basis, it will be up to the prosecutor to conduct preliminary investigations to
confirm or rule out extrajudicial executions," he added.
MRTA family members decided to bring a case alleging extrajudicial killings
Hidetaka Ogura, a Japanese embassy employee who was held hostage, told
media he had seen three rebels alive and tied up in the garden after the raid.
Ogura's allegations echoed others made within days of the assault that
were executed with "coup de grace" shots and at least one begged to surrender
before being shot.
The execution reports suggested a possible breach of international practices
taking of prisoners, committed on what was seen as Japanese sovereign soil.
Media have speculated that if charged, Fujimori could face prosecution in Japan.
Copyright 2001 Reuters.