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Wednesday, 14 March, 2001, 02:43 GMT
Peru experts examine exhumed rebels
Protestors/Sean Lockie
Human rights protesters watched the exhumations
By Claire Marshall in Lima

In Peru, the body of Nestor Cerpa Cartolini, the left-wing guerrilla who led the hostage siege at the Japanese ambassador's residence in April 1997 has been exhumed.

Forensic experts in Lima/Sean Lockie
Experts will examine all 14 bodies
The remains of all 14 rebels involved in the siege are being unearthed and taken for examination.

There have been claims that at least three were executed by government troops during the rescue mission.

If the experts looking at the bodies do find conclusive evidence that some of the rebels were executed, then former President Alberto Fujimori, now residing in Japan, could face charges of murder.

The special forces operation against the rebels of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement was headed by Mr Fujimori and his disgraced intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos.

Intense sun

An area of the cemetery has been cordoned off with yellow police tape, and armed riot police stand guard.

Former President Alberto Fujimori
Fujimori has denied the guerrillas were executed
As the work continues under the intense sun, opportunistic locals mingle with the onlookers, selling fizzy bottled drinks and ice creams.

As forensic scientists, wearing white coats and face masks, work to dig up another body of a Marxist guerrilla, protestors shouted that "Fujimori and Montesinos are assassins".

Experts are looking for signs that the rebels were killed in cold blood, during the military operation which rescued all but one of the 72 people held captive.

A former hostage has said that he saw three of the guerrillas alive and tied up after the raid.

State lawyer Ronald Gamarra told local radio that one body bore "evident" signs of bullet holes in the skull.

Properly judged

Julia Ponce heads a support group for the families of the rebels.

Whilst handing out information leaflets, she says the relatives want the people responsible for these "extrajudicial", or illegal, deaths to be properly judged.

Exhumations/Sean Lockie
The work has been going on despite intense heat
Jose Pablo Baraybar is leading the team of experts who will examine the 14 bodies, and had been working at the gravesides all day.

He wasn't allowed to give many details, but said they had checked for bullets, and taken all the evidence away for a thorough inspection.

So far, eight corpses have been dug up, and the post-mortems will begin at the end of the week.

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See also:

09 Mar 01 | Americas
Peru to exhume rebels' bodies
02 Mar 01 | Americas
Peru court summons Fujimori
02 Mar 01 | Americas
Japan refuses to extradite Fujimori
14 Feb 01 | Americas
Prosecutors close in on Fujimori
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