February 27, 2008
Twenty-ninth session. Santiago Martin Rivas, discharged Peruvian army major, testified in this hearing. Martin Rivas has been recognized by various witnesses in this trial as being the Colina group’s head of operations.
To date in the oral hearings phase, Martin Rivas has been the witness to present the most contradictions, both within his own testimony and with the testimony given by other witnesses in this trial. The most significant of these were:
1. The Colina Detachment never existed. The Scorpio group — considered Colina’s forerunner — did not even exist. Just as did the witness Carlos Pichilingüe Guevara, Martin Rivas denied the existence of Colina, even contradicting the testimony of the defendant, ex-president Alberto Fujimori. As proof, Martin Rivas presented a document from the Joint Command of the Armed Forces dismissing the existence of Colina between 1991 and 1992. However, in 2002 the judiciary and the Attorney General’s Office took several documents from the offices of the Army Intelligence Service (SIE) that indicate the selection of certain intelligence agents for the Colina detachment, thus demonstrating its existence. To date, the Defense Ministry has made no official announcement to clarify this issue.
2. Meeting with journalists. Regarding his meeting with journalists Gilberto Hume and Umberto Jara, Martin Rivas testified that:
- He sought out Gilberto Hume because he is an honest journalist. They only talked about four issues: i) the armed struggle and illegal persecution of Martin Rivas for his efforts in combating this struggle, ii) the enforcement of the amnesty law, still currently in force, iii) the need to establish a Truth Commission like South Africa’s that gave amnesty to human rights violators, where all Peruvians would assume responsibility; then and only then would he assume the “responsibility that corresponds” to him, although later in the session he emphasized that he had no responsibility whatsoever and that he had committed no crimes, and iv) the murder of Mariela Barreto. According to Martin Rivas, they never discussed the Barrios Altos and La Cantuta massacres, much less his participation in them.
- He sought out Umberto Jara because he was a lawyer and a friend. With him he made the videos presented in court, in which Martin Rivas directly incriminates Fujimori as the top leader in the chain of command for the Colina detachment. According to Martin Rivas’ testimony today, these were rehearsals, and that he had copied parts of the book to use in them. It is important to remember that though Jara is a lawyer, his field has been civil law.
If indeed he committed no crime, as he has now testified, he still failed to explain: i) why he took recourse in the Amnesty Law, highlighting that it is still in force, ii) his enthusiasm for the creation of a Truth Commission that grants amnesty, where he could declare his version of the truth and, if found guilty, it would only be for what was demonstrated in that commission.
3. According to Martin Rivas, he was sentenced by the military court without a shred of proof. One of the strangest parts of the session was when Martin Rivas testified that despite having no proof, the military court found him guilty of the Cantuta murders and sentenced him to 20 years of prison. Regarding this issue, other witnesses considered members of the Colina detachment have testified that there were serious irregularities in this court, committed during Fujimori’s government. However, neither the military court nor the Defense Ministry has made an announcement regarding these claims.
4. Low-intensity war, guerrilla warfare. Martin Rivas testified that the press is not knowledgeable in military terms and sometimes even uses them maliciously. According to Martin Rivas, the low-intensity war (or low-intensity conflict) is synonymous with guerrilla warfare and that in Peru there has only been one case — that of Gen. Andrés Avelino Cáceres, a Peruvian military official who participated in the war with Chile from 1879 to 1883 — though he later contradicted himself, saying that it was also used in the case of Manuel de la Puente Uceda, leader of the Revolutionary Left Movement that resorted to arms in 1964.
It is important to note that there is abundant literature available world-wide on the topic of low-intensity conflicts. It is not a term exclusive to the military or military knowledge.
5. Crimes against humanity. Martin Rivas reminded the Court that though many military officials were accused more than 10 years ago of crimes against humanity, Peru just four years ago ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Thus, according to Martin Rivas, the crimes committed before this date cannot be tried, to which the Court responded that these kinds of interpretations will be made by the Court, not by him.
It is important to mention that Martin Rivas’ interesting legal interpretation goes against national and international doctrine and jurisprudence; however, according to his reasoning, this would not only free himself from any kind of sentence in the trials he faces, but also implies that Fujimori would not be able to be tried for the crimes of Barrios Altos and La Cantuta.
6. He did not previously know Fujimori. Martin Rivas first testified that he did not meet Fujimori before, but on the question of Ronald Gamarra, one of the lawyers for the victims’ families, he confessed that he served as part of Fujimori’s security in 1991.
7. Intelligence Manual. He said that the intelligence manual was key in the fight against Shining Path, though he did not know how to explain in exact terms why it was key. (Note: According to Marco Miyashiro, responsible for Abimael Guzmán’s capture, his team never saw this manual.)
Martin Rivas indicated that he participated in the 1991 meeting with generals from the Peruvian army in order to present the manual. In the meeting, he said he presented the part on Shining Path while intelligence official Eduardo Fournier Coronado spoke on the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA). (Note: in 2006, Fournier was a congressional candidate for the pro-Fujimori political group, “Alianza por el Futuro.”)
He claimed that he understood that Fujimori’s congratulations were for the manual that had been put together.
Additionally, Martin Rivas always referred to the witnesses who effectively collaborate (for example, through voluntary confession) as “colaboracionistas” or collaborators, and referred to lawyers and public officials as “pressurers” who, according to him, had obligated and persuaded the witnesses in this trial and members of the supposed Colina detachment to accept the benefits offered with effective collaboration.
Fujimori: This was the day that Fujimori smiled the most, as he listened to the extensive answers of Martin Rivas who constantly attempted to clear the former president of any guilt. Fujimori did not fall asleep in this session as he has in recent sessions.
The next hearing, on Feb. 29, includes viewing of the videos where Martin Rivas appears rehearsing testimony that incriminates Fujimori.