Jacqueline Fowks*/ February 6, 2008
“When someone is arrested he is brought to the Intelligence Service, they ‘work’ him, they extract the information that is wanted, and if it is convenient that he stay alive, he stays alive. That’s the current style in intelligence,” said witness Isaac Paquiyauri Huaytalla, ex-agent of the Colina group, at the twenty-first hearing of the oral trial.
Paquiyauri explained that he was thrown out by Martin Rivas ten months after joining Colina because he was looking into the cause of the deaths at Barrios Altos in 1991.
According to his testimony, they would have “disappeared” him, the same as happened to agent Mariela Barreto, if it hadn’t been for his relatives – some of them military personnel – who threatened to go to the press about his disappearance as soon as they found out that he was being tortured for asking “uncomfortable questions.”
The ex-agent – whose life today seems more at risk than yesterday because of his statements – also said that the night of the Barrios Altos killings, Santiago Martin commented while celebrating his birthday that then-president Fujimori was bothered (and bewildered) because during the operation they killed a nine-year-old boy.
The witness maintained that the actions of the Colina group followed a plan of operations approved and known by the army and government high command. “If there weren’t a plan, personnel and vehicles wouldn’t be moved. If it were something isolated, we would do it in the street,” he said, while mentioning the military installations in which the group operated and the resources at its disposal.
Fujimori’s lawyer, César Nakazaki Servigón, tried to damage the witness’ self-esteem and give him a lesson on army regulations. At times, he repeated the tone and type of questions used on the journalist Edmundo Cruz three weeks ago (January 21). One should remember that his insistence on asking Cruz about theoretical definitions brought a rebuke from the Judge a few days later, when he was told to abstain in the future from arguing, making comments, or using false information that could confuse the answers of the witnesses.
Today Nakazaki used not only a “theatrical” style (excuse me, actors), but an offensive one, with the witness Paquiyauri, different from the treatment that he offered to co-defendant Fernando Lecca Esquén, another ex-agent of Colina, whom he questioned that same morning.
The witness said that he came from a Catholic family and that therefore he couldn’t remain in a detachment that killed people. Another time he explained that he worked as a second level technician and that because of his position – low level in the Army – he didn’t read regulations or directives since he wasn’t in contact with them. Nakazaki took advantage of those statements for some low blows.
“But where did that conversation occur? Were you confessing, perhaps you were at church? Because you are a very religious man,” Fujimori’s lawyer asked with apparent irony. To which the ex-agent replied, “Without offense, doctor”.
“Do you have knowledge through your experiences – because you have told us that you don’t study much – …?”, the lawyer later asked.
Nakazaki also criticized a couple of times in a joking tone the benefits (lower prison term) that the ex-agent received by cooperating with the government. On one of those occasions the presiding judge, César San Martín, called him to order and asked him to avoid that type of comment.
Although there are several other elements to take into account, such as the ever decreasing presence of the Fuji-fans in the courtroom – not like when Keiko Fujimori was in Lima – it is pertinent to pay attention to the lessons that these sessions teach, as much to those who carry out some function in the courtroom as to the national and international observers, the media, and those who listen to the broadcasts of the oral trial.
Nakazaki showed surprise that Paquiyauri would spend so many hours talking with the “old ones” of Colina when he encountered them after having been expelled from the group. The ex-agent asked him, “Doctor, haven’t you ever met to talk to a friend?” A bailiff in the courtroom couldn’t hide a laugh.
The former army technicians testified today that during that time they were afraid they would be arrested by the police because of the murders, showing that the police were on the side of “duty well completed.” What importance does the completion of duty have now? Although the oral trial refers to past events, it requires daily input to evaluate how far we are from the power institutions of the Fujimori years. Where does power reside now?
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* I attended the trial as a national observer by invitation of the National Coordinator of Human Rights.