The attorney general in charge of investigating the 1988 murder of a journalist has requested a prison sentence of 25 years for the former interior minister, Daniel Urresti. The attorney general also requested a reparation payment of 500,000 soles ($162,000).
Attorney general Luis Landa has accused Urresti of ordering the murder of Hugo Bustios, a journalist for Caretas magazine in Ayacucho. Bustios was executed on Nov. 24, 1988 by Peruvian military from the Castropampa base in Huanta province.
Bustios was traveling on a motorcycle with another journalist to investigate the Shining Path in Quinrapa when they were ambushed. Eduardo Rojas escaped and later saw Peruvian soldiers detonate Bustios’ body with a grenade.
The order to kill the journalist was given by colonel Victor La Vera, the top-ranking officer at the Castropampa military base who believed the journalist was collaborating with the rebels. La Vera and another officer, Amador Vidal, were convicted of the murder in 2007. Two years later, Vidal told investigators that Daniel Urresti was involved. Until that time, Urresti had not been implicated, even though he was the head of intelligence at the base in 1988.
Last July, Urresti insisted he was innocent. “The first trial lasted over 20 years. In that time my name did not appear anywhere. Not as a witness, not even a mention. There is no blood on my hands.”
Pedro Mujica and Edgardo Montoya, two soldiers from the base, have said that Urresti gave the order to kill Bustios. Journalist Abilio Arroyo claims to have received information from other soldiers that Urresti was involved.
The indictment came one day after Urresti announced his enrollment in the Peruvian Nationalist Party. After statement that he would not allow Alan Garcia or Keiko Fujimori to be elected to the presidency, many expect him to be considering a presidential candidacy.
Nationalist Party statutes do not allow candidates with felony convictions or pending criminal proceedings. Some have questioned the timing of the indictment and whether it has to do with politics.
According to the widow of Hugo Bustios, Margarita Patiño, “Our family and the Bustios case have nothing to do with politics. It has been a fight for 26 years.”
Last July, Urresti said in an interview that he would resign from the interior ministry if he were indicted. Less than two weeks ago, he was replaced by Jose Luis Perez.
President Ollanta Humala said, “After many years, one of the convicted has implicated ex-minister Urresti … It’s strange, but in the end we believe that he should comply with the procedures and I think he will.”
Urresti published via Twitter an open letter to the public and said that he feels his civil rights were being violated.
Golpe a la candidatura de urresti (La Republica)