“One tries to accumulate points throughout the testimony”
Ronald Gamarra, lawyer for the victims’ families and former assistant prosecutor for the Alberto Fujimori and Vladimiro Montesinos cases, analyzes the testimony of Prime Minister Jorge Del Castillo and gives his impressions of the trial of the former President.
1. What has been the importance of the testimony of Jorge del Castillo, current Prime Minister, for the trial that is now under way?
The first thing is the theme of kidnapping. Fujimori is being tried here for three cases: Barrios Altos, La Cantuta, and the Army Intelligence Service basement, and in this last case, since the first session, Fujimori’s defense has been saying that there was abuse of authority, that there were no kidnappings. That is apparently because of the penalty established in the Code, the penalty is higher for kidnapping than for abuse of authority. Well, Del Castillo, being a witness, a victim, and a lawyer, has given sufficient keys that, from his point of view, frame the events as a kidnapping and not an abuse of authority.
Secondly, he has given us a version of what happened in the coup d’état of April 5, 1992, and the conduct of the Armed Forces that led to the kidnappings and detentions. That is interesting, along with the fact that he mentioned that there was an elite group among those who stormed García’s house and they could have been from the Colina Group. That’s an interesting trail that is here, and we’ll see if it can be followed.
2. With the testimony given up to now, is there some progress in proving Fujimori’s command responsibility for the crimes that are imputed to him, or are we at the same point where we began?
What’s happening is that we are still at the beginning of the trial, so it is premature to give an opinion. Here one tries to accumulate points throughout the testimony of the witnesses. If one looks at it from an absolutely formal point of view, it looks like there is no direct proof, up to now, of Fujimori’s command responsibility.
Have all these points been accumulated?
I think that a collection of points is being accumulated. But nobody can dispute the fact that when the journalist [Umberto] Jara comes, when Martín Rivas, Hermosa Ríos, and Robles testify, these are going to be the top moments in the trial, where there will be a leap forward regarding the command responsibility.
Regarding the strategy of Fujimori’s lawyer, César Nakasaki, he began with a legal strategy based entirely on documents. Would you say that he is changing or following the same line? How do you evaluate the strategy?
It’s a strategy excessively formal for my taste. Evidently he is gambling that there was a directive and that it was carried out accordingly.
What the criminal complaint says is that beyond the directives, there was a plan for a dirty way, a “war of low intensity”, and that people acted outside of the manual and the directives.
The question is, what are the judges going to consider when it comes time? I think that the Fujimori defense is too formal; they are mistaken about the setting and about the court. I think this is a tribunal shaped by law professors, that they are used to marshalling theories, and that, over the base of the accumulation of clues, they can work out a theory that will prove the command responsibility. This is the topic, it seems to me, that is not being adequately covered by Fujimori’s attorneys.
In the cross examination of Del Castillo, Fujimori’s attorney asked him about the existence of the paramilitary unit that called itself “Rodrigo Franco”; why would he have following this line of questioning, trying to make a connection with the Colina Group?
I think that actually, more than trying out a defense, what [Nakasaki] was doing was making the witness uncomfortable, because there weren’t even any questions challenging his statements. Nor were there questions that challenged the credibility of the witness as a person; rather, they pointed to the existence of paramilitary groups in the government of the Peruvian Aprista Party, something that Del Castillo was never going to admit. I think that he was a particularly uncomfortable witness for the defense.
Do you agree with the penalty of eight years that the Prosecution has asked for in the corruption cases against Fujimori?
I don’t know the charge, but I imagine that it should be the maximum possible penalty set out in the Penal Code. If that is what it is, of course I agree.