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Public Prosecutor presents Cantuta and Amnesty laws as evidence

November 7th, 2008 · No Comments

(Alberto Fujimori. Photo: Judicial Power) 

November 5, 2008

One hundred sixteenth session. Public Prosecutor Avelino Guillén presented more evidence to be debated, including the “Cantuta Law” and the “Amnesty Law,” documents indicating that the Colina agents were paid even after being condemned by the military court to long prison sentences, and other documents to prove the persecution of Máximo San Román, former Peruvian vice president.

According to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the laws presented as evidence were made in compliance with a government strategy to secure impunity for the Colina Military Detachment as well as military and police officials who had committed human rights violations. This strategy was ultimately intended to protect Alberto Fujimori, who was at the top of the Armed Forces chain of command, investigations and consequent sanctions for human rights violations.

The evidence presented included:

1.     Law No. 26291, known as the “Cantuta Law” – Approved during the early morning hours of Feb. 8, 1994, in order to resolve the competence conflict between the military and civil courts, giving the Supreme Court power to decide with only three rather than four, as stated in the law.

Before that date, the following events had already occurred:

1.1.                   Dec. 18, 1993: The civil court judges ordered the arrest of Colina group members.

1.2.                   The military court objected. In the Judicial Power, the Supreme Court’s Criminal Court had to then resolve the competence conflict.

1.3.                   Feb. 4, 1994: Three Supreme Court magistrates voted in favor of the Cantuta case going to the military court and two voted in favor of the civil court. However, according to the law, there must be four votes in order to resolve disputes.

1.4.                   Disputes that are not resolved by a four-vote majority in the Supreme Court are supposed to be passed to the Council Judges from the Judicial Power’s Supreme Court. However, these judges’ past decisions indicated that they would most likely vote in favor of the civil court.

1.5.                   Feb. 7, 1994: Fujimorista Congressman Julio Chu Meriz presented a bill proposing the competence dispute to be resolved in the Supreme Court with only three votes rather than four, through secret ballots.

1.6.                   Feb. 8, 1994: In the early morning hours, without opinions from congressional commissions in order to pass the norm immediately, Congress approved Law No. 26291, which was signed the following day by President Alberto Fujimori and published on Feb. 10.

According to Public Prosecutor Guillén, this law was passed in order to have the Cantuta crime ruled on by a military rather than civil court.

2.       Law No. 26479, known as the “Amnesty Law” – Approved immediately after being accepted on the early morning of June 14, 1995. This law absolved members of the Armed Forces and police officials, as well as civilians who had been accused, investigated or condemned for human rights violations from facing criminal charges and shelved the judicial cases against them.

Public Prosecutor Guillén reminded the Court of the June 16, 1995 ruling by Judge Antonia Saquicuray, who was then investigating the accusation against the military officials implicated in the Barrios Altos crime. In the ruling, she resolved that the Amnesty Law “would not be applied in trials waiting to be resolved in her office.” As a result, Congress approved Law No. 26492, establishing that the Amnesty Law could not be subject to judicial review, which annulled the judiciary’s power to check other government branches.

According to the Public Prosecutor, this law was made to give amnesty to and benefit the military officials condemned by the military court in the Cantuta case. Guillén also claimed that this law sought to protect Fujimori against any possible charges for the Barrios Altos and La Cantuta crimes since the law clearly established amnesty for investigations against military or police officials in addition to civilians: “This was a self-amnesty law that Fujimori himself pushed through in order to benefit.”

3.       Evidence to demonstrate Colina members’ pay – While the Colina members were serving their prison sentence after being condemned for the Cantuta case, they were supposedly still receiving their monthly salaries.

4.       Documents to prove persecution against Máximo San Román Cáceres, former Peruvian vice president, after he accused military officials of human rights violations.

Opinion from lawyers for the victims’ families

Carlos Rivera and Ronald Gamarra, lawyers for the victims’ families, backed the value of the evidence provided by the Public Prosecutor. “The Cantuta Law and Amnesty laws are expressions of the ‘two-sided’ policy in combating subversive groups.”

Questioning from the defense

Fujimori’s lawyers argued that the Cantuta and Amnesty laws were instigated by the legislative, not executive branch. They further claimed that these laws were a “political solution,” given that its counterpart the “Repentance Law” was passed in 1993.


Incidents surrounding the criminal trial


Fujimori called to testify in Montesinos’ trial

Alberto Fujimori was formally summoned by the Second Anti-Corruption Court to testify on Nov. 10 of this year in the criminal trial against Vladimiro Montesinos, his former intelligence advisor. The former president has been called to testify in the “March of the Four Corners” (Marcha de los Cuatros Suyos) trial in order to give details on events that happened during the march, particularly the burning of a bank in the center of Lima and the death of six persons.


According to Carlos Ramos Heredia, the Public Prosecutor in this trial: “What Fujimori has to say is important because we need to specify who gave the order for the police to retreat and who allowed the vandals to destroy and set fire to institutional buildings.”


According to the Public Prosecutor’s accusation, Montesinos organized and applied a plan to infiltrate the protest in order to instigate acts of violence that would discredit the movement against Fujimori’s third election.


The Public Prosecutor stated that the Court could even move this criminal trial to Fujimori’s cell during afternoon hours — Fujimori’s own trial is currently being held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during the morning — since the former president cannot leave the detention center where he is being held.


However, Fujimori’s lawyer has argued that the former president will not give testimony since he is only required to testify in cases he was extradited for. The lawyer also claimed that testifying could cause possible complications in Fujimori’s health: “We are not going to accept any requests for [Fujimori] to act as a witness, mostly because, while doctors have Fujimori’s health under control, they always ask that his intellectual efforts be gradual even in his own trial.”


Guillén does not attempt to dispute with the military court

Recently, Juan Pablo Ramos Espinoza, Peruvian general and president of the Military Justice Supreme Council, demanded a correction from Public Prosecutor Guillén, who claimed that the criminal trials held in the military court for the Cantuta case were merely simulated. 


However, Guillén responded that the Public Prosecutor’s Office “is not attempting to dispute with the Military Justice Supreme Council judges,” rather the accusations made were based on the 2003 ruling by the Supreme Court, which condemned military judges Oscar Granthon Stagnaro and Miguel Ernesto Montalbán Avendaño, as well as military prosecutor Raúl Talledo Valdivieso, for covering up individuals and for illegal association as a result of their ruling in the Cantuta case.


International criticism on the delay in Fujimori’s criminal trial

Alirio Uribe, from the International Federation for Human Rights, stated his concern for how the trial’s conclusion has been postponed until next year.

Next session

The next trial session will take place on Friday, Nov. 7. It is expected that the Public Prosecutor’s Office will finish presenting evidence by the following Friday. Afterward, the lawyers for the victims’ relatives will begin presenting evidence they consider relevant.