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Truth and Reconciliation Commission report
to the Prosecutor’s office on the Huanta case Salomón Lerner Febres

Huanta, March 10th, 2003

Ladies and gentlemen:

This morning, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission comes to the Huanta town and, particularly, to its municipal stadium, to present to the country the conclusions of a report on serious abuses to human rights that had its epicenter to a good extent in these same facilities. The stadium, reflection of the whole effort of the Huanta people, became a center of abuse and terror between 1983 and 1985. An ill-conceived anti subversive strategy that was meant to curb the criminal acts of subversive organizations, provoked, in turn, numerous crimes, some of which are summarized in the report delivered to the Prosecutor’s office so that it complies with the functions the Constitution assigns it.

By presenting these three cases, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission wants, in fact, to especially point out that the justice administration organs have a very serious responsibility before the country, which is complying with their duty of receiving, processing, investigating and sanctioning those who have incurred in very serious crimes while they wore the uniform of our military and police institutions. At the same time, we want to state that Peru’s navy, whose tradition as champion as our sovereignty is acknowledged by all, must contribute, obeying to its own history, to sanction anybody who betrayed its own institutional principles.

Among its objectives, the Commission aims at contributing with the clarification of crimes and human rights abuse perpetrated by subversive organizations or state agents to be carried out by jurisdictional organs. To that end, the Commission works restlessly in clarifying facts. The report we now present is the result of investigation activities we developed to comply with our mandate.

The Commission has been able to identify consistent behavior of patterns in the subversive and anti subversive activities developed in the province of Huanta in 1984. In what regards PCP- Sendero Luminoso, we have been able to find a generalized threatening pattern against the population in murders of authorities, policemen, military and general population. On the other hand, we have found that under the cover of anti subversive policy, state agents perpetrated numerous forced disappearance, torture acts and out-of-law executions. The increase of dead people in the provinces of Huanta and La Mar is both due to the Shining Path actions and to the activity of the navy infants that on January 21st 1983 established their general headquarters at this stadium. The main measures established by this military force in the zone were imposing the curfew, organizing patrols to rural areas of the valley and progressive installation of anti subversive bases.

According to the ombudsman’s office between January 1st 1983 and August 23rd 1984, 302 people were arrested and disappeared in the province of Huanta. In turn, The Truth and Reconciliation Commission figures, without being definitive yet, are smashing: the province of Huanta gathers most of the dead people in all the departments of Ayacucho and, therefore, in all the country, between 1980 and 1984. Likewise, it is the province with the largest number of dead people in all the period investigated by the Commission from 1980 to 2000.

The facts the Commission is presenting now are the hardest and most instructive example of violence the country suffered in 1984. Firstly, the murders of six people belonging to Presbyterian Evangelic Church in the community of Callqui on August 1st, 1984. Secondly, on August 2nd, the abduction and disappearance of journalist Jaime Ayala Sulca, one of La Republica’s reporters, at the Navy base located in the Municipal Stadium of Huanta. Thirdly, some days later, on August 23rd, the finding of 50 corpses buried in Pucayacu, some kilometers north of the city of Huanta in lands belonging to the Acobamba province, department of Huancavelica.

In this period, other facts occurred which, without having the demonstrative strength of those we just presented, also express together, a systematic pattern among the armed forces, particularly the Navy, in the investigated period. This pattern was the arrest of hundreds of people by military agents who, without identifying themselves, and in many cases breaking into their houses in the middle of the night, took them before the astonishment of their families and friends without pointing out why they were arresting them and without informing their families and friends where they were taking them.

Thanks to the testimony of the few people who were able to obtain their freedom, we have been able to reconstruct their fate and the mistreatment they suffered. However, for each one of those people who can testify of what happened, there are numerous others, who, arrested in similar circumstances, never went back to their homes and make up today that intolerable list that dishonors our country, missing people.

The information gathered by the Commission permits to state that those arrested in Huanta and its surroundings were taken to the navy base located in the stadium where they were interrogated with different torture methods. A few of them were freed and most simply disappeared. We can state that this military behavior responded to a well-known pattern that was assumed by the command during that time. Because of the magnitude and frequency of these facts and considering the logics of military action, it is hard to assume that those acts obeyed only the individual criterion of some officers or non-commissioned officers.

The cases investigated lead to affirm that the military power of the Huanta base implemented an illegal anti-subversive strategy, which is implied by systematic and generalized human rights abuse. According to what was found by the Commission, the out-of-law executions, abductions and tortures were not the result of individual initiatives, but manifestation of a de facto strategy of their own.

The Commission now wants to present, the results of this investigation before the Huanta population, regarding the three cases I mentioned at the beginning of the speech about which we have sufficient evidence to state reasonable presumption of liability of the Peruvian Navy marines.

The Assassination of Evangelic People in Callqui

Between 6 and 8pm of August 1st 1984, six members of the Presbyterian Evangelic church from the Callqui and Nisperosniyocc communities in the province of Huanta, Ayacucho, identified as Paulino Ccayo Ccoriñaupa, Jorge de la Cruz Quispe, Melquiades Quispe Rojas, José Yañez Huincho, Wenceslao Huamanyalli Oré and Constantino Yañez Huincho, were murdered by Peruvian Navy marines from the Huanta military base.

That night approximately 27 people were gathered at the evangelic church. After having heard insistent knocking at the temple’s doors, they saw the violent entrance of a group of men whom they recognized as part of the Huanta Marine Detachment, due to their uniform and because it was not the first time they arrived there.

The Navy marines asked for Concepción Chávez. According to the witnesses, since they did not find him, they took seven men, young and adult, whom they took out to the temple yard. People inside the temple were forced to go on singing. Fifteen minutes later, several shots were heard as well as an explosion that made the walls tremble. When the military left, the people found six of the seven persons who had been taken out of the temple dead in the middle of blood. Moments before, one of the community members had been taken back to the church.

In February 1985, the ad hoc prosecutor for Huanta accused Corvette Captain Alvaro Artaza Adrianzén and citizen Jesús Vilca Huinchi for homicide and the examining magistrate opened the corresponding investigation on September 26th 1985. Nevertheless, the First Criminal Court of the Supreme Court of Justice- when resolving a competency dispute about it- failed in favour of having the case seen by military justice. That sentence, issued with no juridical foundation, is one of the major shames in the judicial history of our country.

On November 25th 1985, the Navy judge found the Navy members free of all liability, a decision that was confirmed by the Supreme Council of Military Justice. Once again justice was mocked.

More than seventeen years after that decision favoring impunity, and as a result of its investigations, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission declares that there is sufficient evidence to point at a justified presumption that on August 1st 1984, Navy marines stationed in Huanta murdered six defenseless people from the communities of Callqui and Nisperosniyocc, when they were in the Callqui Presbyterian Evangelic Church. We have arrived to this reasonable presumption through the testimonies of victims and witnesses and after having analyzed the investigation by Huanta’s provincial prosecutor, the investigation carried out by the ad hoc judge in Huamanga-Ayacucho and the Military Court trial.

The Callqui and Nisperosniyocc community members murdered that night on August 1st 1984 by the anti guerilla detachment members of the Huanta Navy base were:

  • Paulino Cayo Ccoriñaupa 49 years old, born in Huanta province, Ayacucho, married and mason.
  • Jorge de la Cruz Quispe, 16 years old, born in Huanta province, Ayacucho, single and student.
  • Melquiades Quispe Rojas, 21 years old, born in Huanta province, Ayacucho, single and farmer.
  • José Yañez Huincho, 18 years old, born in Huanta province, Ayacucho, single and student.
  • Wenceslao Huamanyalli Oré, 17 years old, born in Huanta province, Ayacucho, single and student.
  • Constantino Yañez Huincho, 24 years old, born in Huanta province, Ayacucho, single.

Disappearance and Murder of Jaime Ayala Sulca

On August 2nd 1984 and about 10am, Jaime Boris Ayala Sulca, correspondent from La República newspaper in Ayacucho went to the Navy marines barracks at the municipal stadium of Huanta province to protest for the raid of his mother’s house. Several witnesses saw him enter said barracks but never saw him leave the place although he had stayed at the door for several hours that day.

Jaime Boris Ayala Sulca was 22 years old when he disappeared. He was married to Rosa Pallqui Medina, with whom he had a son. Ayala Sulca, besides being correspondent of the mentioned newspaper, had a news program in Radio Huanta 2000.

At about 3 o’clock in the afternoon that same day, the journalist’s sister, Zaira Ayala Sulca, approached the Navy’s base to ask for him. She was answered that her brother had been in the base for only 15 minutes and that he had left afterwards.

The next day, August 3rd 1984, Rosa Luz Pallqui Medina de Ayala, the journalist’s wife, filed a claim before the Huanta Province Prosecutor for Jaime’s disappearance. His family also filed a claim before Ayacucho’s Political Military chief, army general Adrián Huamán Centeno, for alleged abduction against this journalist. Later, on December 4th that same year, Julia Sulca, widow of Ayala, Jaime’s mother, reiterated and broadened the claim before the General Attorney doctor Alvaro Rey de Castro.

Taking into account the multiple evidences concerning Jaime Ayala’s entrance to the Navy marines base and although the arrest was denied by the military authorities, Mario Gilberto Miranda Garay, the Province Prosecutor filed a criminal accusation against Corvette Captain A.P. Alvaro Francisco Serapio Artaza Adrianzén and Ship’s officer Román Manuel Martínez Heredia on February 18th 1985 as presumed authors of abduction against Jaime Ayala Sulca. On February 21st 1985, the second Examination Court of Huamanga admitted the prosecutor’s accusation and opened an investigation.

The case is under reserve because the accused had not been found and had been declared fugitives. Currently, the case is in the archives of the Ayacucho Superior Court of Justice.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has gathered enough evidence, including the declaration of two direct witnesses of the fact, whose identity is kept under reserve, that Ayala Sulca was arrested by Navy marines, retained at the Huanta municipal stadium, submitted to mistreatment and torture and finally murdered right here. His body has not been located.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission requested the Minister of Defense a detailed list of Peru’s Navy personnel in service at the Huanta military base during 1984, but has not received any response to date. However, the Commission considers there are sufficient elements to reasonably presume that those responsible for the abduction and further out-of-law execution of journalist Jaime Boris Ayala Sulca are:

  • Corvette Captain Alvaro Francisco Serapio Artaza Adrianzén, who authorized the entrance of the journalist to the military facilities and presumably ordered his arrest, disappearance and out-of-law execution.
  • First lieutenant Augusto Gabilondo García del Barco, head of the anti-subversive base of Huanta in 1984. His is currently retired with the grade of Frigate Captain.
  • Ship’s Officer Román Manuel Martinez Heredia, who received Ayala Sulca at the barracks door and who, once he consulted with his superiors, made him come into the military base. This officer has not been found and has been declared a fugitive. After he incurred in destination abandonment, he was removed due to disciplinary measure by Ministry Resolution issued on March 14, 1986.
  • We must also identify and determine the criminal responsibility of the Peruvian Navy officer known by the name of Lynx, who spoke with Ayala Sulca and authorized his entrance to the Navy barracks.
  • Likewise, we still must identify and determine the criminal responsibility of a Peruvian Navy officer known by the name of Josaca, who presumably was in charge of the victim’s execution.

Álvaro Artaza Adrianzén’s Legal Situation

In the criminal trial opened against him for the crime of abduction of Jaime Ayala Sulca, Alvaro Artazar Adrianzén has not been found and has been declared fugitive. The file is under reserve in Ayacucho’s Superior Court.

However, Artaza Adrianzén is said of having presumably died, as a consequence of an alleged abduction on February 2nd 1986. The news appeared published on September 15th 1989 in El Peruano, the official gazette. It was a judicial notice on presumed death declaration requested before the 22nd Civil Court of Lima by the Public Prosecutor of the Ministry of Defense in charge of Special Affairs concerning Peru’s Navy.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission declares there is sufficient evidence to request revision of the judicial decision declaring Alvaro Artaza Adrianzén presumably dead and demands the use of all legal means possible to clarify the situation of who is presumably liable for facts that can not be left unpunished.

The Pucayacu Burials

On August 22nd 1984, four burials were discovered in the area of Pucayacu, Marcas district, Acobamba province, Huancavelica department, containing fifty corpses in an advanced state of decomposition. The corpse has no clothes and could not be recognized. Many of them had the hands tied and most showed bullet wounds in the head and other lesions produced by sharp instruments. In some cases torture traces could be observed.

According to necropsy, all the bodies were naked, 40 were blind folded and/or the hands tied, 15 of the victims died due to cranial traumatism, thoracic traumatism, strangling and wounds made with a sharp instrument, while 35 of them died from bullet wounds in the head and neck.

All the bullet wounds were in the head and had a similar path, from the back to the front and from the bottom to the top, by the back of the head. Additionally, 19 of the bodies showed traces of tortures. Out of the 50 bodies found in the burials, only one was identified by the family. It is Nemesio Fernandez Lapa´s body.

When the corpses were exhumed, 16 bullet cases and some personal objects were found around the burial. Among this, there was the military card of Cirilo Barboza Sánchez, who according to witnesses had been arrested one week before the burials were found by policemen from Luricocha and transferred to the Navy base in Huanta.

On October 12th 1984, Huanta´s Provisional First Instance Judge Juan Flores Rojas, opened an investigation against Corvette Captain Alvaro Artaza Adrianzén for the crime of homicide against 15 unidentified persons found in the Pucayacu burials. At the same time, another trial was opened in the Military Court. The next day after the civil trial started, the Permanent War Council of the Navy President filed a dispute of competency to request the case be seen by the Military Court.

On April 10th 1985, the Second Criminal Court of the Supreme Court, resolved the dispute of competency favoring the Military Court and ordered that all that had been acted concerning the case be remitted to the Navy’s Permanent War Council. That sentence, as well as that produced in the Callqui case was a notorious distortion of justice.

The Supreme Council of Military Justice decided the cause dismissal due to lack of proofs. Based upon the evidence gathered, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission argues that the Pucayacu victims did not die in battle but, on the contrary, were executed out-of-law. There is sufficient evidence, according to the Commission, to attribute responsibility for these extremely serious actions to the following personnel from the Navy assigned to the Huanta Military base:

  • Frigate Captain Alberto Rivero Valdeavellano, political-military chief of the Huanta and La Mar provinces during 1984. Currently retired with the grade of rear admiral.
  • Corvette Captain Alvaro Francisco Serapio Artaza Adrianzén.
  • First Liutenant Augusto Gabilondo García del Barco.

We must also inform that in the report submitted to the Attorney General, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission documents 58 cases of forced disappearance during that same period presumably attributable to the Navy’s marines.

Ladies and gentlemen:

Today we have summarized cases that have shaken the country’s conscience for a long time and we have done so with a justified expectation that justice will be made. Therefore, I want to inform to you that in our report to the Attorney General regarding these facts, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommends the Public Prosecutor to proceed in the briefest term possible to:

1. Filing criminal claim against Alberto Rivero Valdeavellano, Alvaro Francisco Serapio Artaza Adrianzén, Augusto Gabilondo Garcia del Barco, Luis Alberto Celis Checa, Jesús Vilca Huincho and the 18 members of the military patrol for presumed homicide foreseen in article 152 of the Criminal Code of 1924 against Paulino Cayo Ccoriñaupa, Jorge De la Cruz Quispe, Melquiades Quispe Rojas, José Yañez Huincho, Wenceslao Huamanyalli Oré and Constantino Yañez Huincho, community members of Callqui and Nisperosniyocc.

2. Filing expanded criminal case against Augusto Gabilondo del Barco for presumed abduction and homicide foreseen in articles 223 and 152 of the Criminal Code of 1924, respectively, against Jaime Ayala Sulca. The expanded criminal case must refer to file N° 14-85 that was submitted to Huamanga’s ad hoc Examination Court and which is currently under reserve in Ayacucho´s Superior Court archives.

3. Filing expanded criminal case against Alvaro Francisco Serapio Artaza Adrianzén and Román Martínez Heredia for presumed homicide foreseen in article 152 of the Criminal Code of 1924 against Jaime Boris Ayala Sulca. The expanded criminal case must refer to file 14-85 that was submitted to Huamanga’s ad hoc Examination Court and which is currently under reserve in Ayacucho´s Superior Court archives, Court which is currently trying the accused for abduction.

4. Filing criminal claim against Alberto Rivero Valdeavellano, Alvaro Francisco Serapio Artaza Adrianzén, Augusto Gabilondo Garcia del Barco, Segundo Wilfredo Villena Vinces and Juan José Vidal Sánchez, for homicide foreseen in article 152 of the Criminal Code of 1924, as presumably responsible for the out-of-law execution against Nemesio Fernandez Lapa and 49 unidentified persons whose bodies were found in the Pucayacu burials.

5. Filing criminal claim against Alberto Rivero Valdeavellano, Alvaro Francisco Serapio Artaza Adrianzén, Augusto Gabilondo Garcia del Barco, Segundo Wilfredo Villena Vinces and Juan José Vidal Sánchez, for aggravated abduction foreseen in article 223 of the Criminal Code of 1924, for having kept 57 persons in prison who are now missing.

6. Filing criminal claim against Police Captain Jorge Cubas Portugal, chief officer of the police station in Luricocha and against police personnel under his command for abduction, a crime foreseen in article 223 of the Criminal Code of 1924, for having put Cirilo Barboza Sánchez, Alejandro Gutierrez Taype and Erasmo Ochoa in prison, who are now missing.

7. Carrying out the necessary procedures so as to identify other Navy and police personal who may have participated in homicide against Nemesio Fernández Lapa and other 49 unidentified persons in the aggravated abduction of the 57 persons abducted between July and August 1984 and that are still missing.

8. Carrying out the exhumation of the bodies found in the Pucayacu burial to determine the victims´ identity and to deliver the bodies to their families.

9. Dictating the corresponding precautionary measures to ensure appearance before the Court of the accused, taking into account the seriousness of the fact investigated and the penalty foreseen by law, as well as the existence of a clear procedural danger circumstance, which makes it reasonably presumable that the accused will attempt at evading justice.

10. Carrying out the necessary procedures so as to determine the whereabouts of Alvaro Francisco Serapio Artaza Adrianzén and proposing, in connection with him, recognition of presumed death, as foreseen by article 67 of the Civil Court, since there are reasonable indications that this person is alive.

11. Comprising in the investigation the magistrates and officials of the military court who dictated the sentences concerning the Callqui and Pucayacu cases by which the investigation was caused, which implies a serious non compliance with their duties.

12. Requesting the Ministry of Defense to remit the list of names as well as the personal identity information of the officers, non-commissioned officers and troop detached to the Huanta Navy base during July and August 1984, so as to establish the corresponding responsibilities in the cases under investigation.

13. Applying protection measures in favour of the summoned witnesses under identity reserve in our report. This mechanism must ensure the protection of their identity and permit their appearance in the trial to declare and participate in other procedures during the investigation.

Ladies and gentlemen, people of Huanta:

By submitting this report, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has complied with its mission of cooperating with the jurisdictional organs. Our findings do not determine immediate criminal liability or condemn anybody in advance. It corresponds to justice to make a statement on these facts and to do so proceeding in a substantially different way from how it was proceeded more than 15 years ago. It is always a pity to remember grave and shameful facts that disturb the moral conscience of our homeland. But we are still in time to make justice, which is different from taking revenge. Reconciliation only will be possible - we will say it once and again - when the victims’ voices are listened to, when the perpetrators face their guilt judicially and when our institutions recover damaged credibility. From the rubble of this moral disaster, we are sure rejuvenated nation shall reemerge and that we will be able to look ahead to the future. This stadium, a place of injustice and horror, must be from now on remembrance of what must never happen again, a symbol of the need of justice in the present and a place of hope and peace promises.

Thank you very much

Salomon Lerner Febres
Truth and Reconciliation Commission