Peruvian military commander Jesus Zamudio turned himself in to authorities yesterday to face murder charges from the 1997 Chavin de Huantar assault.
Zamudio is wanted for the extrajudicial execution of Eduardo Cruz, alias “Comrade Tito,” who courts have ruled was killed after Peruvian commandos liberated 72 hostages from 14 rebels at the San Isidro residence of the Japanese ambassador.
Two of the commandos involved in the 1997 Chavin de Huantar assault testified that they captured Cruz alive and turned him over to Zamudio.
The commandos, Zamudio and other intelligence agents were initially absolved of any wrongdoing by a military court. But after Fujimori’s resignation in 2000, judicial appeals cleared the commandos but named Zamudio responsible for Cruz’s murder.
Zamudio went into hiding in October 2002 and remained a fugitive until he turned himself in yesterday. The latest development comes two months after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that the government of Peru denied Cruz’s due process in absolving all military authorities of wrongdoing in his execution.
The court decision stated that the Peruvian government has “the obligation to investigate the facts in civil court and identify, prosecute and, where appropriate, punish those responsible.”
From December 1996 until April 1997, Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) rebels held 72 hostages at the San Isidro residence of the Japanese ambassador to Peru. The saga ended when 197 commandos stormed the house via underground tunnels inspired by the Chavin de Huantar archaeological site. The assault freed 71 of 72 hostages and killed all 14 rebels.
After the commandos secured the home, a team of intelligence agents nicknamed the “gallinazos” managed by Alberto Fujimori’s intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos entered the home. Human rights activists claim these agents murdered Cruz as well as Herma Melendez and Victor Peceros.
Zamudio will also face charges filed two years ago for the 1983 Pichari massacre of 40 people in the Sivia district of Ayacucho. Zamudio led a patrol known as “Los Linces” which rounded up 80 young men, 40 of whom were never seen again, after the murder of a local police officer by the Shining Path. A mass grave was discovered in Sivia two years ago.
Jesús Zamudio, el ‘gallinazo’ prófugo (La Mula)
Se entregó Zamudio Aliaga, procesado por ejecuciones (La Republica)