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Last Updated: Friday, 5 November, 2004, 21:41 GMT
Shining Path retrial suspended
Abimael Guzman in court, with his lover and co-defendant Elena Iparraguirre
Guzman (right) turned the hearing into a demonstration
The first hearing in the retrial of former leaders of Peru's Shining Path guerrilla group has ended in chaos.

The judge suspended the hearing after Shining Path Founder Abimael Guzman, 69, and his 15 co-defendants rose to their feet and chanted.

Mr Guzman is being retried on terror charges in a civilian tribunal, after his 1992 conviction by a military court was overturned last year.

He led an insurgency in which tens of thousands died in the 1980s and 1990s.

At the start of Friday's hearing the grey-haired Maoist - wearing his trademark thick-rimmed glasses - hugged one of his colleagues before sitting down among them.

Chaos

The trial began with one of his co-defendants addressing the court. Oscar Ramirez Durand, alias Feliciano, requested a state-appointed attorney saying he had no money for a lawyer.

After about an hour, Mr Guzman's turn came.

ABIMAEL GUZMAN
Formed Shining Path movement in the 1970s
Launched insurgency in rural areas in 1980
70,000 killed in terror and counter-terror campaigns
Arrested and judged by military panel in 1992
Life sentence overturned by constitutional court in 2003
Moments after the presiding judge asked TV and radio journalists to leave the tiny viewing gallery, Mr Guzman rose to his feet.

With his right fist clenched and raised high, he began to shout: "Glory to Marxism, Leninism and Maoism".

His followers joined in, saying: "Long live the heroes of the people. Long live the Peruvian people".

The judge suspended the hearing until next Friday, and the accused were led back to their cells.

It was a farcical end to the first day of what could be one of Peru's most important ever trials, says the BBC's Elliott Gotkine in Lima.

No-one in Peru - not even Mr Guzman himself - expects the country's courts to free him, adds our correspondent.

But there are fears the rebel leader could appeal against any eventual guilty verdict to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on the grounds that Peru's definition of terrorism is flawed, in the hope of winning his liberty.

Ruthless war

A total of about 70,000 people were killed by both guerrillas and security forces during the 1980s and early 1990s.

After Mr Guzman's capture in September 1992, he was presented to the media, wild-eyed, caged and dressed in a striped prison uniform.

Guzman during his transfer to a high security prison in 1993
Guzman was paraded to the media in a cage after his capture

The government of the day reportedly considered shooting him - but in the end he was tried behind closed doors by military judges.

They wore hoods to avoid being targeted for revenge by the Shining Path, and the group's founder was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

But last year, Peru's constitutional court repealed the anti-terror laws approved by former President Alberto Fujimori, and threw out Mr Guzman's initial conviction, prompting re-trials.

After his capture the Shining Path split and the rebellion collapsed - though the movement is still on a US list of terror groups.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Why Peru has decided to retry the rebel leader



SEE ALSO:
The day the Maoists went to court
06 Nov 04 |  Americas
Profile: Peru's Shining Path
05 Nov 04 |  Americas
Fasting Peru rebel 'doing fine'
05 Jun 04 |  Americas
Peru bounty on Shining Path rebel
30 Apr 04 |  Americas
New 'Shining Path' threat in Peru
19 Apr 04 |  Americas


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