Lima, Peru (July 15, 2011) – Yesterday, Peruvian ex-military officer Telmo Hurtado was extradited to Peru for his participation in the massacre of 69 villagers in Accomarca, which included many children, on August 14, 1985.
The Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) welcome the extradition of Hurtado and congratulate the human rights and victims’ organizations who worked tirelessly over the past 26 years in search of truth and justice in this grave case of human rights violations.
After he presents his plea before the judiciary, Hurtado will be included in the existing trial for the Accomarca massacre in Lima. The trial began on November 18, 2010, and charges 29 people for the events in Accomarca. Among those charged are the soldiers responsible for the crime, as well as the high-level military officers that gave the orders to kill the innocent civilians.
The Accomarca massacre was one of many terrible crimes committed by the Peruvian army during the bloody twenty-year conflict between the Peruvian government and insurgent groups, including the Shining Path. During this time, the Peruvian army and other government forces were responsible for grave and systematic human rights violations against the civilian population. According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Peru (CVR), a total of 26,259 civilians were killed or disappeared in the region surrounding Accomarca during the conflict.
Major Hurtado arrived in the United States in 2002 after the 1995 Amnesty Law—which previously protected him from prosecution—was nullified. After denouncing his presence in the country, the Center for Justice and Accountability intervened on behalf of survivors in 2007 with a lawsuit for war crimes, torture and crimes against humanity, and Hurtado was found guilty. After the ruling, the government of Peru asked for his extradition, and thanks to close collaboration between victims’ lawyers in Peru and the United States, it was approved on June 16, 2009. Hurtado tried to use every resource available to him, even the U.S. Supreme Court, but eventually all were rejected, and his extradition was confirmed.
“The arrival Telmo Hurtado to Lima, via extradition and not deportation, and his trial in Peru are the culmination of an effort by the Accomarca survivors and our civil action suit that began more than four years ago with a lot of hope,” said Almudena Bernabeu, international lawyer for CJA. “It is an honor for me to have represented the survivors of that terrible massacre. I applaud the authorities in both countries and, above all, the tireless perseverance and desire of the victims that has finally brought justice for my clients and for Accomarca.”
“Although there have been some important advances in justice for grave human rights violations in Peru, like the 25 year sentence for former president Alberto Fujimori, the overwhelming majority of these cases remain in absolute impunity,” said Jo-Marie Burt, senior fellow for WOLA and political science professor. “With the arrival of Telmo Hurtado, the possibility for justice is renewed in this case and for so many other cases in which family members have been waiting for many years.” Telmo Hurtado is not the only one responsible for the Accomarca massacre. “Hurtado was a good soldier that carried out the orders of his superiors. He was protected, promoted and decorated by both the government of Alan Garcia and Alberto Fujimori,” Burt said. “That is where we need to focus our efforts for justice.”
About the organizations:
CJA is a nonprofit human rights law organization based in San Francisco that is dedicated establishing accountability and eliminating severe violations of human rights around the world and to educating of survivors to seek truth, justice and redress. CJA is the only organization in the United States that is dedicated to finding justice for survivors of serious violations of human rights against those responsible for them. For more information about the demands against Hurtado, please visit www.cja.org
WOLA promotes human rights, democracy, and social justice by working with partners in Latin America and the Caribbean to shape policies in the United States and abroad. Founded in 1974 by a coalition of religious and civic leaders, WOLA works with civil society organizations and governments in our hemisphere. In particular, WOLA facilitates the dialogue between governments and non-government actors, monitors the impact of U.S. government and international organizations’ policy, and promotes alternatives through investigation, information, education, training and advocacy.