25 April, 1997

Derechos Human Rights

Peru: Possible extra-judicial executions of MRTA rebels

Peruvian armed forces stormed into the residence of the Japanese Ambassador in Lima on April 22, in a rescue operation for the 72 hostages kept there by MRTA rebels since December of last year. While most of the hostages were freed safely, the operation resulted in the death of a Supreme Court Justice and of the 14 MRTA members that had taken over the residence, as well as two soldiers. According to reports, some or all of the MRTA members might have been summarily executed after being captured alive. The Supreme Court Justice, moreover, might have died due to lack of medical care.

According to former hostages, MRTA member Tito was captured alive and unarmed. He was handcuffed and taken out of the ambassador's residence through a tunnel. As soon as the end of the tunnel was reached, Tito was taken back to the embassy and never seen again.

MRTA member Cintya was reportedly captured alive and was heard shouting "Don't kill me!" Two young female MRTA members reportedly shouted "We surrender! We surrender!" when Peruvian security forces stormed the building.

One hostage told the Asahi newspaper, referring to the death of an MRTA member, "I saw a murder...I realized that the terrorist arrested (earlier) was killed when I heard the news that (all) 14 terrorists had died in the operation."

All MRTA members were reportedly shot in the head after the initial attack. Peruvian television footage showed what appeared to be a body without arms or a head next to the body of MRTA leader Nestor Cerpa Cartolini, who was also reportedly executed while unarmed.

The Peruvian government's handling of the bodies lends a great deal of credence to hostages' accounts of MRTA members being executed after being captured alive. Hostage-taking is a crime, but it does not warrant summary executions.

According to newspaper reports, Supreme Court Justice Carlos Giusti may have died as a result of inadequate medical attention from a bullet wound. Giusti earned the respect of Peruvian human rights advocates by asserting his independence and voting to try soldiers accused of human rights abuses in a civilian court. The accused soldiers were later granted amnesty by the Fujimori government.

These reports are especially troubling given Peru's dismal human rights record. Human Rights organizations have documented hundreds of extra-judicial executions committed by members of the Peruvian security forces, including several massacres, since President Fujimori took power in 1990.

Derechos Human Rights calls on the Peruvian and Japanese governments to conduct a comprehensive and independent investigation into the deaths of Supreme Court Justice Carlos Giusti, Lt. Col. Juan Valer Sandoval, Lt. Raul Jimenez Chavez, and all MRTA members. The results of the investigation should be made public.

Please send politely worded letters to the following authorities, requesting:

-That they undertake a full and independent investigation as to the deaths of the 14 MRTA rebels and of Supreme Court Justice Carlos Giusti. The investigation should determine how each of them died.

-That the bodies of the dead MRTA members be returned to their families.

Please write to:

     Presidente de la Republica
     Senor Alberto Fujimori Fujimori
     Palacio de Gobierno
     Plaza de Armas s/n - Lima. Peru.
     Telefono 51 14 266770
     Fax  51 14 4266770

     Ryutaro Hashimoto 
     Prime Minister 
     Prime Minister`s Office 
     6-1, Nagata-cho 1 chome, Chiyoda-Ku 

About the Attack to the Japanese Embassy

Human Rights in Peru