Peruvian National Court Finds Former Military Personnel Guilty of War Crimes for Accomarca Massacre
September 1, 2016—The Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) welcomes today’s decision by the Peruvian national court finding guilty Telmo Hurtado and Juan Rivera Rondon of grave human rights violations during the Accomarca Massacre, one of the worst crimes committed by the Peruvian military in a two-decades long civil war. CJA’s Transitional Justice Director Almudena Bernabeu said, “Today’s judgment brings hope to all of those seeking to hold perpetrators of war crimes accountable. The case shows the heart and determination of the people of Accomarca to ensure truth and justice.”
On August 14, 1985, in an attack orchestrated by Hurtado and Rondon, the Peruvian military murdered 69 unarmed indigenous Quechua villagers, many of them young children. At the time, the military was fighting guerilla factions linked to the Shining Path movement in rural Peru. Indigenous communities were caught in the crossfire between the government and rebel forces.
In 2007, in collaboration with our colleagues in Peru, CJA filed two civil suits in U.S. district courts against Telmo Hurtado and Juan Rivera Rondon, a major and a lieutenant respectively of the Peruvian army who had fled to the United States after the release of the Peruvian Truth Commission report that contained a mandate to list all known perpetrators of human rights abuses. CJA clients Teofila Ochoa Lizarbe and Cirila Pulido Baldeon were just 12 and 13 years old when soldiers bombarded the village of Accomarca. Teófila and Cirila saw the soldiers rounding up the villagers, beating the men and raping the women and girls. Teófila and Cirila watched as the soldiers corralled the villagers into two buildings, open fire with their guns and toss grenades. The girls’ family members—their mothers and siblings—were among the 69 murdered.
A Florida District Court judge found Hurtado guilty of war crimes, extrajudicial killing, and crimes against humanity in 2007, awarding the plaintiffs $37 million in damages. This was the first time a court had ruled on accountability for what had happened in Accomarca. The evidence developed by CJA in these cases proved essential to the U.S. decision to extradite Hurtado to Peru and later to deport Rivera Rondon to stand trial on criminal charges. This was the first time U.S. authorities had honored an extradition request for torture and genocide.
Bernabeu said, “International justice requires a net of international and national mechanisms to ensure that justice wins. Today is a good day for justice.”
About the Center for Justice and Accountability
The Center for Justice and Accountability is an international human rights organization dedicated to deterring torture, war crimes, crimes against humanity and other severe human rights abuses around the world through litigation, policy advocacy and outreach in pursuit of truth, justice and redress for victims and survivors. For more information, visit www.cja.org.