By R. Renee Yaworsky
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America
Tiverton, UNITED KINGDOM–A Peruvian man has been arrested after becoming a suspect in alleged human rights abuses. The man is a yet-unnamed political exile who has been living in the quiet town of Tiverton, England, after claiming asylum. He is suspected of being involved in state-supported death squads, torturing and executing more than 100 people in Peru during the 1980s and 1990s. The death squads he is suspected of being associated with used to target leftist rebel movements, including the infamous Shining Path. A change in UK anti-war crimes laws has made the arrest of the man possible.
Metropolitan Police officers from an anti-terrorist squad arrested the suspect Tuesday morning at a residence in Devon. The address and a business location were searched. A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police stated: “A 46-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of torture and crimes against humanity and has been detained at Exeter police station to be interviewed.” The suspect has since been released on bail and will return to a central London police station in July.
Civil conflicts in the man’s native country of Peru were common between 1980 and 2000; during those years, about 70,000 people vanished. A Maoist guerrilla group called Shining Path was responsible for destructive military campaigns in 1980. Approximately half of the deaths and disappearances that took place during this period have been attributed to organizations like Shining Path.
The United Kingdom has been seen as a hiding place for alleged war criminals because of a lack of prosecutions and arrests. The arrest of this suspect Tuesday came after an alteration in the law last year. The new version of the law extends the historical cut-off point from 2001 to 1991 for war crimes, crimes against humanity and acts of genocide.
Nick Donovan, one of many who worked to change the law, said, “Before the recent change in UK law many of the dozens of British residents suspected of crimes against humanity couldn’t be prosecuted for crimes committed in the 1990s. It’s great to see the new law being used already. Obviously this man is innocent until proven guilty, but if this arrest leads to a successful prosecution it will be a great day for the families of the victims.”
For more information, please see:
CNN-British police make arrest linked to Peru abuses-17 March 2011
Daily Mail-Peruvian ‘war criminal’ is arrested . . . in Tiverton-17 March 2011
Independent-Peruvian ‘war criminal’ found in Tiverton-17 March 2011