Peruvian Supreme Court reduces sentences for death squad members guilty of killing journalist in 1992

By Liliana Honorato

A chamber of the Peruvian Supreme Court decided to reduce the sentences of many members of the death squad, known as Grupo Colina that was active during the 90s in Peru, nullifying sentences for crimes against humanity in several cases, including the killing of journalist Pedro Yauri, reported the news outlet BBC Mundo.

The announcement of the reduction of the sentence from 25 to 20 years of prison for the accused, among them Vladimiro Montesinos, former adviser of former president Alberto Fujimori, was given by the president of the Permanent Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court, Javier Villa Stein, reported the Chilean newspaper La Nación. “Not all crimes against human rights are against humanity," said Villa Stein.

The ruling was immediately criticized by several human rights advocates, who said that the court's decision “gives impunity incentives" in Peru, said the executive secretary of the National Coordinator of Human Rights, Rocío Silva Santisteban, according to the newspaper La Primera.

In fact, impunity still is a serious problem in Peru. For example, on May 10, a court absolved a former mayor and his former city manager of responsibility for the killing of journalist Alberto Rivera Fernández in 2004, a decision that encountered much criticism from journalist unions in the country.

The family of journalist Yauri, killed in 1992, expressed outrage at the court's decision, saying that “Mr. Villa Stein showed favoritism toward Fujimori's administration” and that he opened “the doors to these uniformed killers,” reported the newspaper La República.

Among many of the other people who openly rejected the ruling are Judicial Power president, César San Martín, and even the President of Peru, Ollanta Humala, who said that the sentence will be appealed, reported the newspaper Perú21.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.