US embassy cable - 04LIMA5261

PRESIDENT TOLEDO BLASTS JUDICIARY'S HANDLING OF SENDERO LUMINOSO LEADERS' TRIAL

Identifier: 04LIMA5261
Wikileaks: View 04LIMA5261 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Lima
Created: 2004-11-09 22:00:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: PTER PINS PHUM PE
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LIMA 005261 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PTER, PINS, PHUM, PE 
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT TOLEDO BLASTS JUDICIARY'S HANDLING OF 
SENDERO LUMINOSO LEADERS' TRIAL 
 
REF: LIMA 5163 
 
1. (U) SUMMARY:  President Toledo harshly criticized the 
judiciary's handling of the trial of Sendero Luminoso (SL) 
founder Abimael Guzman and other SL leaders in a national 
address 11/6, after Guzman and his co-defendants were 
permitted to disrupt the opening of their oral trial the 
previous day.  The President vowed that no terrorists will be 
released while his government is in office, called for 
"summary" trials of terrorists, and announced the 
appointment of a new State Attorney (Procurador) for 
Terrorism who would seek to recuse the three judges presiding 
over the trial.  The televised spectre of Guzman and his 
cronies reaffirming their terrorist actions and showing no 
remorse for the estimated 69,000  deaths resulting from SL's 
rebellion caused widespread public revulsion, and politicians 
from across the political spectrum quickly backed the 
President.  While Toledo may have scored some political 
points, his intervention could well be seized on by the SL 
defendants as grounds for a future appeal to the 
Inter-American Court of Human Rights.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (U)  The first of many retrials of Sendero Luminoso 
founder Abimael Guzman (Reftel) lasted half-an-hour before it 
was suspended after Guzman and four of the 18 defendants 
stood up and began chanting revolutionary slogans.  Presiding 
judge Dante Terrel, President of the three-member "A" 
Antiterrorism Chamber, appeared to contribute to the chaos 
through his indecision, alternatively admitting then 
prohibiting television cameras and failing to ensure proper 
decorum in the courtroom.  In the end, Terrel chose to 
suspend the session, with the next hearing scheduled for 
11/12. 
 
3. (U)  President Toledo, in a television address on 11/6, 
promised an "iron fist" against SL, called for "summary" 
trials of SL terrorists, criticized the court for permitting 
Guzman to use the proceedings for propaganda purposes, 
announced that he would appoint a new State Attorney 
(Procurador) for Terrorism cases and that this official would 
seek to recuse the three-judge panel and would demand life 
sentences for the defendants.  The President also declared 
that stricter security measures would be applied to the SL 
leaders in the Callao Navy Base prison, including the use of 
interview booths with security windows to prevent personal 
contact between the defendants and their attorneys/visitors. 
(Note:  The previous Anti-Terrorism Procurador resigned 
several months ago.  The interview booths were removed 
earlier this year after Guzman and other SL prisoners went on 
a hunger strike.  Press articles over the past month claimed 
that Guzman has been running Shining Path remnants from his 
jail cell, facilitated by liberal visitation policies.  There 
have been previous calls for Judge Terrel's recusal, based on 
his representation of terrorist defendants in the early 
1990's.  Foreign Ministry legal experts told Poloff on 11/8, 
that the GOP can move for the recusal of the entire 
three-judge panel, but that a final decision will be up to 
the judges themselves or to the Supreme Court.  End Note). 
 
4.  (U)  Media coverage of the opening session was 
sensationalized and public revulsion widespread at the sight 
of Guzman and his co-defendants publicly reaffirming their 
revolution and its bloody consequences.  Most press 
commentary backed the President's criticism of the judiciary, 
although some debated whether his intervention constituted 
interference with the Judicial Branch.  Pro-GOP and 
opposition politicians supported Toledo's announcements, 
although APRA leader Alan Garcia added that the President 
would leave a resurgent SL as a legacy. 
 
5. (U) The GOP, on 11/8, announced the appointment of 
Guillermo Cabala, ex-director of Office of Control over 
Magistrates (OCMA), the Peruvian agency that investigates 
judicial misconduct, as the new Procurador for Terrorism in 
the Interior Ministry.  Cabala is a respected jurist but 
critics have questioned whether, at 76 years of age, he might 
be a bit long in the tooth for such an important 
responsibility. 
 
6. (U) Legal experts, such as former Foreign Minister Diego 
Garcia Sayan, have pointed out constitutional and procedural 
impediments to holding summary trials or recusing judges once 
a trial has begun.  Cabala sought to soften Toledo's remarks 
by saying they should be put in the context of the 
president's wish for a speedy and efficient trial.  Cabala 
criticized the inexperience of Judge Terrel, questioned his 
impartiality, noting that Terrel represented terrorists in 
the past, and said he would pursue a legal way to have the 
judges recused. 
 
6. (SBU)  COMMENT:  President Toledo notched up political 
points with his virulent denunciation of the judiciary's 
handling of the terrorism retrial and announcement of 
remedial measures.  The outpouring of public revulsion at the 
SL leaders' antics demonstrates that public rejection of 
Peru's terrorist legacy remains strong.  Toledo's 
intervention, however, could well be used by the defendants 
as evidence of improper Executive Branch interference with 
the Judicial Branch in any appeal to the Inter-American Court 
of Human Rights; Guzman's attorney has already stated to the 
press that he would appeal the court's decision to 
international courts. END COMMENT. 
STRUBLE 

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