On November 3, 1991, at Jirón Huanta No. 840, Barrios Altos, six members of Grupo Colina murdered 15 people and left 4 others gravely wounded as the victims celebrated a barbeque to raise funds in order to repair some drainage pipes.
Type of violation: Extrajudicial execution
Placentina Marcela Chumbipuma Aguirre
Luis Alberto Díaz Astovilca
Octavio Benigno Huamanyauri Nolazco
Luis Antonio León Borja
Filomeno León León
Máximo León León
Lucio Quispe Huanaco
Teobaldo Ríos Lira
Tito Ricardo Ramírez Alberto
Manuel Isaías Ríos Pérez
Javier Manuel Ríos Rojas
Alejandro Rosales Alejandro
Nelly María Rubina Arquiñigo
Odar Mender Sifuentes Nuñez
Benedicta Yanque Churo
Type of violation: Grave wounds
Tomás Livias Ortega
Natividad Conderhuanca Chicaña
Felipe León León
Alfonso Rodas Alvítez
It was 10:30 at night on November 3, 1991. A barbeque was going on at Jirón Huanta No. 840, Barrios Altos to collect funds in order to make repairs on the house. All of a sudden, two vehicles, one Jeep Cherokee and one Mitsubishi, both of which had police lights and sirens, stopped in front of the house. Six heavily-armed individuals burst into the party
The individuals, whose ages ranged from 25 to 35 years-old and whose faces were covered by ski masks, made the people hosting the barbeque get on the ground. They then indiscriminately shot their guns for a period of about two minutes. They left as quickly as they had entered, getting into their two vehicles, turning on the sirens that had been turned off the moment that they arrived at the house. Fifteen people died and another four were gravely injured, leaving Tomás Livias Ortega permanently incapacitated.
The survivors declared that the gunshots sounded very quiet, which allows one to suppose that silencers were used. During the investigation, police found 111 cartridges and 33 bullets of the same caliber, corresponding with automatic weapons.
The judicial investigations and press reports revealed that those involved were members of the Peruvian Army and belonged to Grupo Colina, a "elimination squad", that carried out its own anti-subversive program.
One week after the attack, Congressman Javier Diez Canseco presented to the press a copy of a document titled "Plan Peddler" that described an intelligence operation that was carried out at the crime scene. According to the document, since January 1898, supposedly diverse "subversives" met in this house with the cover story of being street vendors.
On November 15, 1991, the Congress named an Investigatory Commission, comprised by Senators Róger Cáceres Velásquez, Víctor Arroyo Cuyubamba, Javier Diez Canseco Cisneros, Francisco Guerra García Cueva, and José Linares Gallo. Lamentably, this commission did not conclude its investigation before the closing of Congress that was a consequence of the coup of April 5, 1992. The new Democratic Constituent Congress selected in November 1992 did not renew the investigation nor did it publish the results of the investigation of the former commission.
Although the acts occurred in 1991, it was as recently as April 1995 that the investigation into the incident began. The prosecutor of the Forty-First Provincial Criminal Prosecutor's Office of Lima, Ana Cecilia Magallanes, accused as responsible in the Barrios Altos killings Division General Julio Salazar Monroe, then the Chief of the National Intelligence Service (SIN), Major Santiago Martín Rivas, and the enlisted men Nelson Carbajal García, Juan Sosa Saavedra, and Hugo Coral Goycochea. Some of them were convicted and sentenced in the La Cantuta case.
When Judge Antonia Saquicuray of the Sixteenth Criminal Court of Lima made the accusation, the military officers responded that the accusation was unlawful in the civil jurisdiction, because Major Rivas and the enlisted men were under the jurisdiction of The Supreme Council of Military Justice. General Julio Salazar Monroe refused to respond to the subpoenas, arguing that he had privileges as the Minister of State.
Because of this, the Supreme Council of Military Justice handed down a resolution that stopped the accused and the Commander General of the Army and Chief of the Joint Command, Nicolás de Bari Hermoza Ríos, from making any declaration before any other judicial organ. To start the investigations, the Military Tribunal asked for jurisdiction in the case, alleging that the accused must be treated as soldiers in active service.
In the early hours of June 14, 1995, Law 26479 was passed as quickly as it had been accepted. It was the famous Amnesty Law that exonerated all members of the security forces and civilians who had been the object of accusations, investigations, trials, sentencing procedures, or who were completing sentences in prison, of human rights violations. It exonerated and definitively archived the cases.
However, in a few days, when Judge Saquicuray decided not to apply the amnesty law to this trial, basing her decision on the Magna Carta, because to apply the law would violate the constitutional rights and the international obligations that the American Convention imposed upon Peru, the Prosecutor of the Nation, Blanca Nélida Colán, announced the closing of the Barrios Altos case.
The promulgation of Law 26492 eliminated all doubts about the fate of the case. Its purpose was to interfere with the judicial actions in the Barrios Altos case. The law declared that the application of the amnesty was obligatory. Furthermore, it broadened the amnesty to all military, police, and civilian functionaries who had not yet been accused.
On July 14, 1995, the Eleventh Criminal Division of the Superior Court of Justice of Lima definitively archived the case under the argument that the Amnesty Law did not violate the Constitution or the international human rights treaties. Furthermore, it ordered an investigation into Judge Saquicuray for having interpreted the rules incorrectly.
On March 26, 1996, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (CIDH) accepted the accusation of APRODEH in name of the family members of the 15 killed and the four wounded in the Barrios Altos case. However, months before, the CIDH had received accusations about the case, among which were about the Amnesty Law.
On March 14, 2001, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights found that the Amnesty Laws were without legal force and ordered the reopening of the investigation. Likewise, it arranged reparations for the human rights violations for the four victims who survived the massacre and the fifteen who did not. On September 3 of the same year, the Court, at the request of the CIDH, made an interpretative sentence in which it announced that Amnesty Laws 26479 and 26492 were without any legal force.
In the following years, the Peruvian government concluded the payment of the reparations ($175,000) to the surviving victims and the family members of those killed in this crime, and recognized that the Peruvian state was responsible for the massacre.
The request to sentence Montesinos
On May 13, 2005, the Superior Anti-corruption Prosecutor Pablo Sánchez Velarde asked for 35 years of prison for the former presidential advisor Vladimiro Montesinos, considering him to be the intellectual author of the Barrios Altos killings. He furthermore considered Montesinos to be responsible for other crimes such as the murder of a group of campesinos in the Santa Province of Áncash and the disappearance of the journalist Pedro Yauri at the hands of the paramilitary Grupo Colina.
In his accusatory judgment, Sánchez Velarde said that Montesinos Torres was responsible for the crimes of homicide, forced disappearance of persons, aggravated kidnapping, and illicit association to commit crimes, and for this reason asked for the former advisor to pay a sum of 100,000 nuevo soles to each of the aggrieved families in these cases.
The prosecutor asked for a similar penalty for Santiago Martin Rivas of Grupo Colina, the former chief of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces, Nicolás Hermoza Ríos, and the formed Chief of the National Intelligence Service, Julio Salazar Monroe, for having endorsed the crimes against humanity that occurred as being justified as part of the war against subversion.
Similarly, he asked for 30 years of prison for Major Carlos Pichilingue Guevara, as well as for the former Grupo Colina member Fernando Rodríguez, and 51 other people, form whom he asked for sentences of between 8 and 30 years of prison. This accusatory judgment was remitted to the Anticorruption Court "A", which sent to the Public Ministry the dossiers of the human rights violations that the corresponding prosecutor emitted.
At present, the case is bundled together with the Cantuta, Santa, and Pedro Yauri cases in the open trial against Grupo Colina that is currently at trial stage Likewise, the Barrios Altos case is one of the arguments in the extradition request for Alberto Fujimori who is currently in Chile.