by Antonio Zapata
The testimony of Major Santiago Martin and Major Carlos Pichilingue opens a new stage in the Fujimori trial. They denied everything. The Colina Group never existed, there never were orders to kill, and they weren’t even there at the time. All their talk hangs on the deliberate forgetting of the victims. It would seem there are deaths to explain. The two soldiers stood by their version, unperturbed, though Martin confessed that the intelligence agents knew how to respond according to the circumstances; that is, he said he was lying. It isn’t important that his response contradicts his previous statements to Umberto Jara, or that it contradicts the testimony of the other witnesses. Their testimony makes more sense because it takes the victims into account, in order to offer a coherent explanation of how, why, and who killed them. But Martin contradicts everything. This denial is being conveniently used by Fujimori’s able defense lawyer, Dr. Cesar Nakazaki.
By denying the obvious, Martin and Pichilingue are trying to cancel out the testimony of the other witnesses. They are trying to put their improbable version at the same level as that offered by the prosecution witnesses. They want them to be seen as two equivalent readings of the same facts. Then Nakazaki claims that he doesn’t necessarily accept Pichilingue and Martin, but that their testimony establishes the profound discrepancy of the versions. Therefore, there must be reasonable doubt, which obviously favors the accused. No judge can convict an accused person if there is doubt. Martin and Pichilingue do not testify in order to be believed, but to muddy the information provided by the other side, putting the trial in front of two contradictory opinions supposedly on the same level.
At the same time, the version of Martin and Pichilingue supports the general strategy of fujimorismo. It maintains that the crimes of Barrios Altos and La Cantuta were collateral episodes of a successful fight against terrorism. In the effort to convince the public, fujimorismo hopes that the people again feel the fear that Shining Path inspired, in order to reiterate that the ex-president was an efficient defender of the people against terrorism. In that titanic fight, there were barely two excesses, committed by persons who in the end are loyal, who don’t tell what they know, even at the cost of offering the judges a version that is impossible to believe. So again we see that Pichilingue and Martin haven’t spoken in order to be believed, but to seem like sacrifices in the war against Shining Path.
One sector of society argues the utility of those crimes in bringing terror to the terrorists. Barrios Altos was an adjustment of accounts for the strike against los Húsares, and La Cantuta for the street Tarata. So the absurd version of Martin seeks to awaken a sense of identification with those in charge of the dark part of a successful war. In that fight, Fujimori had the political command, and it would be unjust to condemn him. Moreover, in that opinion, we are before a revenge plotted against Fujimori by the limousine liberals (izquierda caviar) and the representatives of the terrorists. That point of view may be found in the book that Pichilingue has released.
Nakazaki’s strategy is developing a second leading idea: the chain of command didn’t reach Fujimori. Every day of the trial there are attempts to clarify the levels of responsibility, to show that Fujimori wasn’t even officially informed about the crimes for which he is being judged. As we know, the Chilean judges extradited him on the theory of his control, “he knew what was happening and was in a position to stop it, but he didn’t do so and even awarded recognition and amnesty.” To confront this conclusion, Nakazaki needs to prove that he wasn’t even aware of the facts. This can sound unlikely, remembering the strong presidential conduct when he took back the Japanese embassy, but the lawyer is obliged to claim that Fujimori was above it all.
We will see how he is developing his argument to the end, because it is clear that in this Court two scenes are being played: the strictly judicial one of Alberto Fujimori, and a good part of the electoral game of 2011. During the next few weeks, as the summer ends, the temperature of this transcendental trial will rise.