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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 March 2006, 10:56 GMT
Peru guerrilla leader convicted
Security forces after an operation to end the takeover of the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima by MRTA rebels
All the rebels in the Japanese embassy siege were killed
A Peruvian court has sentenced the leader of the Marxist rebel group Revolutionary Movement Tupac Amaru (MRTA) to 32 years in prison.

Victor Polay Campos was found guilty of nearly 30 crimes committed in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Other four high-ranking rebels also received long prison sentences.

The MRTA became active in 1984 and gained notoriety in 1996 after it took more than 70 hostages in the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima.

Polay and his fellow commanders, who were charged with crimes ranging from kidnappings to an attack on the US embassy compound, have been imprisoned at a naval base in El Callao, west of the capital, since 1992.

They were sentenced to life in prison by a military court in the 1990s. But in 2003, Peru's constitutional tribunal ruled that their conviction was unconstitutional and ordered a retrial at a civilian court.

Hostage siege

The top five Tupac Amaru leaders were also ordered to pay $15m (8.6m) for the damage and injuries caused by their guerrilla warfare.

The MRTA's most spectacular action was the takeover of the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima in 1996-97 in an attempt to exchange hostages for imprisoned rebels.

The then President, Alberto Fujimori, is widely remembered for his handling of the 126-day hostage siege.

All 14 rebels were killed in the operation, and nearly all the 71 hostages were rescued - one of them was killed.

Nearly 70,000 people died in more than 20 years of guerrilla violence in Peru, according to the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

About half of the deaths were attributed to the Maoist Shining Path rebel group.


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



SEE ALSO:
Shining Path retrial suspended
05 Nov 04 |  Americas
Rebel suspects arrested in Peru
30 Sep 04 |  Americas
Peru's violent past
21 Mar 02 |  Americas
Country profile: Peru
01 Feb 06 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Peru
22 Dec 05 |  Country profiles


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