Former Peruvian spy chief acquitted of killings

Vladimiro Montesinos, pictured here in 2008, at the trial against former Peruvian President Fujimori for charges of human rights violations. Montesinos has been acquitted of murder charges from a 1997 hostage rescue.

Story highlights

  • Vladimiro Montesinos was accused of ordering the killings of a group of kidnappers
  • The court says one killing was illegal, but there's no evidence Montesinos was behind it
  • Montesinos is already in prison for other convictions

A Peruvian court absolved former spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos of murder charges in a case stemming from a 1997 hostage rescue that prosecutors said went too far.

Montesinos is a dark figure in Peru, vilified for his role in corrupt dealings as the closest adviser of disgraced President Alberto Fujimori. Montesinos is currently serving a 20-year sentence for involvement in an illegal weapons deal aimed at arming Colombian rebels and a 15-year term on corruption charges.

But most recently he was on trial for the extra-judicial killings during a rescue by Peruvian commandos of 71 hostages being held at the Japanese embassy in Lima. One hostage died during the rescue.

According to media reports, witnesses said that they saw at least three of the captors surrender to the commandos, who executed them anyway.

The court ruled Monday that prosecutors did prove that one of the kidnappers, a member of the MRTA terrorist group, was in fact killed in an extrajudicial execution. But the court did not find enough evidence of the chain of command reaching Montesinos to make him responsible for the crime.

Two others from the Fujimori regime, the retired military officer Nicolas Hermoza Rios and Roberto Huaman Azcurra, also were acquitted.

Prosecutors, who argued that the three were behind the killings, said they would appeal the decision.

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