BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Sunday, 15 October 2006, 13:07 GMT 14:07 UK
Peru at odds over Shining Path sentences
Abimael Guzman, in a jail cell after being captured in Lima, Peru, in September 1992
Around 70,000 people died during Guzman's rebellion

The press in Peru reflects the heated debate sparked off by the sentences handed down to Shining Path leaders at their retrial in the Peruvian capital.

Newspapers report that many people are angry that some defendants were given more lenient sentences than the life imprisonment received by the Shining Path's top leader Abimael Guzman and his partner Elena Iparraguirre.

Some commentators fear the sentences could be reduced by an international human rights court.

Shame! History will judge this outrageous error
Comment in La Razon

But Guzman and Iparraguirre also have their supporters, who believe they have been treated harshly.


Writing in La Razon, its director Uri Ben Schmuel argues that the reduced sentences handed down to his accomplices had given Guzman "the best present of his life".

In a commentary headlined "Shame!", he says "history will judge this outrageous error".

Mr Ben Schmuel also fears the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CIDH) will be drawn into the case and could rule that the life sentence meted out to Guzman and his partner be reduced to allow for "rehabilitation".

"In this case, this pair of assassins could go free earlier than many imagine unless Peru withdraws (from the court)."

An editorial in La Republica recalls that the CIDH had called for the retrial as the original sentences had been dictated by a secret military court without due process.

The paper praises the Peruvian court's "impeccable handling" of the retrial, noting that "there is a general impression that the sentences were appropriate".

It says for various legal reasons, it would have been impossible to sentence all the defendants to life, and that they will all have to serve three quarters of their sentence before being considered for parole.

The great Marxist-Leninist-Maoist President Gonzalo [Guzman]
Vox Pop in El Comercio

"And in Guzman's case, he won't be eligible until 2027, when he'll be 92, giving the certainty he'll die in prison."

The editorial concludes that although the sentences may appear excessive to some, "we must not forget we are dealing with the leaders of a dogmatic and violent sect responsible for the deaths of thousands of Peruvians".

In a public opinion poll published by El Comercio, over 90% of the respondents believed that all the defendants should have been given life sentences, not only Guzman and his partner.

The opinions of El Comercio readers on the sentences are sharply divided.

Guillermo Vell Garcia believes that they were "unjust because the acts committed in the time of terror were committed by both sides, the armed forces as well as the armed groups".

'Popular war'

Andy de la Cruz writes that the violence stems from the inequalities of the capitalist system and calls for a more equal system without the huge gaps between rich and poor.

Abelino Sifuentes talks of continuing "the popular war" to put an end to imperialism and recognise the work of the "great Marxist-Leninist-Maoist President Gonzalo [Guzman]".

Guzman has no arguments left
El Peruano

But Silvia Maldondao Giron believes they should have received the death sentence for "destroying thousands of homes and human beings" and Johny Barrera argues that life sentences are the minimum they deserve.

A banner headline on the front page of El Peruano declares "Life imprisonment".

"Condemned. Guzman has no arguments left to question the sentence," runs a caption under his photo.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

Peru Shining Path head gets life
14 Oct 06 |  Americas
Peru: The killings of Lucanamarca
14 Oct 06 |  Americas
Profile: Peru's Shining Path
05 Nov 04 |  Americas
Country profile: Peru
29 Jul 06 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Peru
06 Jun 06 |  Country profiles

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific