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Peruvian paramilitary chiefs convicted of a murder in the 1990s

Saturday, June 17th 2023 - 09:44 UTC
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Montesinos was then-President Fuhimori's Chief Intelligence Officer Montesinos was then-President Fuhimori's Chief Intelligence Officer

Former Peruvian National Intelligence Service (SIE) Chief Vladimiro Montesinos and Santiago Martin Rivas, leader of the paramilitary Colina Group created under then-President Alberto Fujimori, were sentenced Friday to 23 years in prison for the premeditated murder of Mariella Barreto, it was reported in Lima.

Warrant Officer Mariela Barreto Riofano was an Army Intelligence operative who revealed the crimes of the Colina Group, as well as Montesinos' plans to kill journalists who opposed Fujimori's government (1990-2000). When her torso was found in a bag in northeastern Lima on March 23, 1997, she was 28 years old and the mother of two girls.

It was during Fujimori's second five-year term. Terrorists of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) had taken diplomats, high authorities, and even some of Fujimori's relatives hostage at the residence of the Japanese ambassador in Lima. They had promised to release them only in exchange for the release of more than 400 of their comrades in prison.

While keeping the appearance that he was willing to negotiate, Fujimori ordered the construction of a tunnel under the residence to eventually send in troops in what was known as the Chavín de Huántar operation.

What was supposed to be a secret ended up in all the newspapers. Barreto was accused of having leaked information to the press, which was denied by the La República's Edmundo Cruz: “The hypothesis that agent Mariela Barreto Riofano was murdered on the basis of a falsehood must be considered and investigated with rigor and integrity,” he wrote a few years ago.

Barreto had been under investigation by the Army Inspectorate for several months. She was constantly interrogated, even until she gave birth to her second daughter in January 1997, because she was considered a snitch by her former colleagues of the Colina Group. This paramilitary commando - created in the nineties to attack government opponents and of which she was a member - was convinced that Barreto had leaked information about the Bermuda Plan, which consisted of attacking journalist César Hildebrandt. She was also accused of allegedly having provided the location of the bodies of the La Cantuta massacre, in which a dozen university students and a professor, accused of terrorism, were dismembered and burned in 1992.

The leader of the Colina Group was Major Santiago Martín Rivas, Barreto's ex-husband, and father of her first daughter. Rivas always denied any involvement in her murder and instead blamed Montesinos. Rivas has been determined to have been the actual perpetrator of the murder. For their involvement in the crime former SIE Colonel Carlos Sánchez Noriega was sentenced to 15 years and former Commander José Salinas Zuzunaga to 8 years.

Montesinos was sentenced to 25 years (from June 25, 2001, to June 24, 2026), for the massacres of La Cantuta and Barrios Altos. Rivas was also sentenced to 25 years (from November 27, 2001, to November 27, 2027).

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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  • Brasileiro

    US troops in Peru is unacceptable and only worsens the already tense debate between the Americas.

    Jun 17th, 2023 - 12:39 pm 0
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