LIMA (AFP) — Peru's "dirty war" against leftist insurgents dated to before Alberto Fujimori's 1990-2000 presidency, a defense witness and former death squad member said Friday at the trial of the former leader on charges of human rights abuses.
"Many (military) officers are now human rights defenders, but earlier they kept quiet. There were abuses before" Fujimori, former intelligence agent Angel Sauni told the court.
Sauni, a self confessed member of the Colina Group, a team of select army intelligence operatives accused of killing 25 people in two massacres in 1991 and 1992, said the strategy used against the leftist Shining Path and Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement came directly from teachings and manuals of the "School of the Americas."
This notorious former military school in Panama has been held responsible for many of the human rights abuses committed by South American military forces in their war against leftist insurgencies during the 1970s and 1980s.
Fujimori, 69, is accused of ordering the Colina Group massacres and of authorizing the 1992 abduction of a prominent journalist and a businessman critical of his regime.
He faces up to 30 years in prison and a 33 million dollar fine if found guilty.
Sauni said the School of Americas's dirty war tactics were "customary" in the Peruvian army, but insisted that abuses committed by the military "are isolated actions that do not reflect institutional behavior."
A lawyer for the victims of the Colina Group massacres, instead, blamed the "institutional policy of the military" prior to Fujimori for the murders.
"We have to prove that Fujimori is criminally responsible for the (murders) because he upheld that institutional policy," David Rivera told reporters.
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