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Peru’s ex-president ordered killings: death squad members


Lima : Seven members of the covert Peruvian army unit that killed several government opponents in the 1990s have said their squad had received orders from former president Alberto Fujimori.

The seven accused officials, including Col Santiago Martin Rivas, erstwhile chief of the Colina squad, made this confession during their testimony in a Peru court, Spain’s EFE news agency reported Thursday.

Fujimori, who governed from 1990 to 2000, is currently on trial here for the deaths of 25 people in the massacres of Barrios Altos in 1991 and La Cantuta in July 1992, in which a university professor and nine students from La Cantuta University in Lima were abducted and executed by the military death squad.

However, the former head of state insists that he “never” authorised the creation of the Colina unit and that he only learned of its existence in 1993, when spy chief and top adviser Vladimiro Montesinos told him that soldiers were responsible for the crimes.

But, a local daily quoted Hercules Gomez, a veteran Colina member, as saying in the court that “the line of command for intelligence activities and special operations had began with the president (Fujimori), as he was the supreme chief of the armed forces.

“The commanding general of the army must have had to report to him (Fujimori) on the operations” of Colina and other elite detachments, Gomez said.

One of his Colina comrades, Hugo Coral, also said all of the unit’s operations “were organised from the highest level, and while there were no written orders to kill, there were verbal orders to that effect”.

Many people in Peru believe that the corruption and abuses of Fujimori’s regime should be forgiven in light of his success in ending the Maoist insurgency that was responsible for the death of some 70,000 people between 1980 and 2000.

But rights activists and relatives of the victims want Fujimori to be held accountable for the actions of his government, which collapsed in November 2000 amid a burgeoning corruption scandal.