Lima, Jan. 9, 2008
One month after the trial’s start, Antonio Salazar, lawyer for the victims’ families in the criminal trial against Fujimori, gives his impressions on the trial’s development and what he expects to happen in the coming sessions.
The witnesses who will testify in the tenth session of the Fujimori trial have already testified in previous trials against soldiers accused of human rights violations. What new information do you expect to see in their upcoming testimonies?
It is important to recognize that, while many of them have testified in other trials [Barrios Altos] or in the trials for the SIE [Army Intelligence Service] basements, a similar declaration is fundamental in the [current] oral proceedings, because their testimony will be made in front of the defendant, Fujimori. This is very significant for the hearing itself; it’s one thing to read what they have said and it is another thing to have them in front of the Court, the state prosecutor, the civil parties and the defense, testifying exactly what happened.
Likewise, it is very important that Samuel Dyer testify, as he is one of the victims, having been detained and placed in solitary confinement for several days in the basements of the SIE. This happened outside the context of the coup d’état as it happened several months afterward. Furthermore, then president, now defendant, Fujimori, saw him in this situation. Dyer said that he called out to the president, who turned, looked at him, and continued walking. This is important because during Gustavo Gorriti’s testimony, Fujimori denied having any knowledge of the detentions that took place in the basement of the SIE. During this testimony in specific, looking back on what was said by Fujimori and by Dyer, there is a clear discrepancy; there are two different versions. Fujimori’s version says “I never knew” and Dyer’s version says “I saw him, I called out to him, he turned around, looked at me, and did not pay any attention.”
The testimony of Barrera Bazán is also very important. He is a witness as well as a victim, although his case is not being seen in this trial. He would tell exactly what happened during his arrest and who kidnapped him.
Jorge Del Castillo, current prime minister, also has relevant testimony to give. During the coup, he was in Alan García’s house and when they went to look for García, they only found Del Castillo and arrested him. The prime minister was “disappeared” for several days. There is a letter from Del Castillo’s wife, dated April 8, 1992, three days after the coup, in which she says that her husband had disappeared and no authority would given her an answer. This is a clear case of “forced disappearance.”
To date, what is the defense’s strategy?
Those of us who know Nakasaki [Fujimori’s lawyer] know very well that his strategy is legal, he always puts emphasis on the need to show the terms of accusation. Nakasaki’s strategy is to show that Fujimori did not command the Armed Forces, that he was the country’s president and nothing more. His strategy suggests that, in order to show Fujimori’s guilt, it must be proved that Fujimori was part of the Colina Group and that he was in charge of it.
However, Nakasaki’s strategy is not giving him the results that had expected for two reasons: the forcefulness of the prosecution’s accusation, which seeks to prove that the president did indeed command and was aware of the acts that the Colina Group committed — this will continue to be proved throughout the trial — and Alberto Fujimori’s pride, revealed in his belief that he still leads the country. This has allowed him to speak more than what was originally coordinated with his lawyer, letting the state prosecutor and the Civil Party [victims’ families] to better develop their strategy. You can see this during the examinations. Fujimori has had to say he “does not remember” or that “it was a political discussion,” which are key observations for the Court and the public following the trial to serve as criteria. If we take a survey of the people who are following the trial, it is very likely that a high percentage would say that Fujimori is lying.
Then is Nakasaki’s strategy of emphasizing the legal aspects working?
Some of the witnesses that Nakasaki has presented are generals of the Peruvian Army and have been political and military leaders of areas where serious human rights violations have been committed. These same generals are tried for human rights violations and they will end up being witnesses against Fujimori.
A margin of high risk begins with the failure of the Fujimori’s legal strategy. Now, they are beginning to use the political strategy, with hopes to silence not only the lawyers of the victims’ families and the state prosecutor, but also the victims and the witnesses. For example, we know that this is reassuring for Colina Group members, though they have not said so precisely. People say that in this group they “buy you” or they “get involved in your family affairs.”
Is there a break point in which the legal strategy will be abandoned for a political strategy or can they be equally employed?
For Nakasaki, the strategy has always been legal. However, Fujimori supporters like Martha Moyano or Carlos Raffo, want to pursue a threatening political strategy. It was not an accident that at the first hearing there were Fujimori supporters with painted faces as if they were in war and who began to make threats, not only outside the room, but also towards the victims, the victims’ relatives, and the lawyers of the victims’ families, going as far as threatening our [the victims’ lawyers’] relatives.
What do you think of Congressman Carlos Raffo’s constant presence at the hearings?
It is an important political presence since he is a congressman who represents a violent alternative. Carlos Raffo has always gone with Kenji Fujimori to the meetings where he chants “It will never happen to the Chinaman!” Also, Keiko Fujimori will distance herself from the trial because she is going to the US to do her Master’s degree. So it will be Kenji Fujimori who is left to lead the Fujimori supporters together with Martha Moyano and Carlos Raffo. For this reason, it is very likely that there will be more threats, even against the magistrates.
It is very important to keep all this in mind. You have to take into account that there is no security plan within the Attorney General’s Office. For example, state prosecutor Avelino Guillén, does not have security and he has already been threatened. In this context, what could happen with the victims who are defenseless?