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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 August, 2003, 22:57 GMT 23:57 UK
Jailed Peruvian rebels on hunger strike
Head of the Shining Path rebel movement Abimael Guzman
Guzman has held hunger strikes before
Jailed leaders of the Maoist Shining Path guerrilla group in Peru are refusing to eat in protest at their solitary confinement.

A lawyer for Abimael Guzman and his companion and deputy, Elena Iparraguirre, said they started fasting on Friday, and would not eat until a 15-day isolation order was lifted.

The prison authorities said the two were placed in solitary confinement because they had refused to go back to their cells after claiming that prison officers had stolen Iparraguirre's diary.

Excerpts from the diary have been appearing in local papers and seem to indicate that Guzman continues to lead the guerrilla movement from his cell.

Guzman has gone on hunger strikes before to demand, among other things, new trials and prison transfers for jailed rebels.

Guzman and Iparraguirre were sentenced in 1992 to life imprisonment in secret trials conducted by hooded military judges, when the then President Alberto Fujimori spearheaded a major crackdown against the rebels.

The Peruvian authorities have since ordered that they be retried in a civilian court.

At least 30,000 people were killed during the Shining Path campaign to overthrow the government in the 1980s and early 1990s.

The violence has dropped off significantly since Guzman was captured in 1992.

But the kidnapping of workers of a natural gas pipeline in June, and the ambush of a marine patrol which left seven dead in July, have raised fears that the guerrillas are moving into a new phase of violence.

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15 Jul 99  |  Americas

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