[JURIST] Final arguments began Monday in the trial of former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] for alleged human rights abuses during his 1990-2000 rule. The prosecution contends that between 1991 and 1992, Fujimori was aware of and approved the so-called "Dirty War" carried out against the Shining Path [BBC backgrounder]. The defense maintains [AFP report] that although Fujimori regrets his role in two separate massacres and kidnappings of opposition members, he was involved in neither the planning of the attacks nor did he give approval for them. It is unclear how long the closing arguments will last. If convicted, Fujimori could face up to 30 years in prison.
Fujimori faces several murder and kidnapping charges [JURIST report] stemming from his administration's successful attempt to combat both the Shining Path and the Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru (MRTA) [advocacy website, in Spanish]. Specifically, he is alleged to have approved the Colina group's November 1991 massacre in Lima's Barrios Altos neighborhood [backgrounder] and July 1992 kidnapping and murder of 10 people from Lima's La Cantuta University [MIT backgrounder]. Neither incident was investigated at the time of its occurrence because Fujimori had suspended the Constitution, purged the judiciary, and dissolved the Congress [backgrounder]. Investigations begun in 1995 uncovered evidence that the Colina group acted with the full knowledge and approval of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces and the National Intelligence Service. These were quickly terminated by the passage of laws No. 26479 and No. 26492, which granted a general amnesty to anyone accused of human rights violations committed after May 1980. The amnesty laws have since been revoked [judgment, PDF], allowing the present trial to proceed. The government has paid surviving members [judgment text; AP report] of the Barrios Altos massacre for their pain and suffering.