The former president of Peru, Alberto Fujimori, has made a fiery outburst in court a few hours into the first day of his murder and kidnapping trial.
Mr Fujimori launched into a tirade in his defence
Mr Fujimori shouted angrily: "I reject the charges entirely. I'm innocent."
The former president, who could receive up to 30 years in prison if convicted, was told by a judge to calm down.
He is accused of authorising two death squad massacres in the early 1990s in which 25 people were killed. He denies the charges.
After remaining silent and grim-faced for the first few hours of his trial, Mr Fujimori launched into a tirade against the accusations against him, when he was given leave to speak.
He shouted: "I declare myself innocent," and "I never ordered the death of anybody."
The outburst, which lasted some minutes, was uncharacteristic of a man usually regarded as cool-headed and calculating, the BBC's Dan Collyns reports form Lima.
Sanctioned death squads:
- 1991 Barrios Altos 15 killed
- 1992 La Cantuta 10 killed
1992: Journalist Gustavo Gorriti, businessman Samuel Dyer seized, interrogated by army intelligence and released
Separate corruption trial:
- embezzling $15m (£7m)
- payoffs to congress members
- illegal wiretapping
Mr Fujimori said Peru was in a terrible state when he was president and under his governance it was dragged out of economic collapse and liberated from the terror of the Shining Path Maoist rebellion.
Mr Fujimori denied that he was responsible for human rights abuses and said on the contrary he was trying to protect the population.
"As a result of my government the human rights of 25 million Peruvians are respected," Mr Fujimori yelled.
"If there were exceptions, I condemn them, but I didn't order them."
He was asked to lower his voice by the lead judge, but continued to speak at volume before finally sitting down and apologising for the disturbance.
Minutes later a recess was called and for the first time the former leader waved and smiled at his three children, Keiko, Sachi and Kenji, who were sitting in the front row of the audience.
His outburst may find sympathy with some Peruvians, who feel he has been unfairly treated, but others are just as resolute that he should be found guilty of human rights abuses and jailed for the rest of his life, our correspondent says.
Mr Fujimori's trial relates to two massacres carried out by a death squad known as La Colina, in which a total of 25 people died.
The former president's three children were present in the gallery
In 1991, La Colina raided a barbecue in a poor suburb of Lima known as Barrios Altos and killed 15 people.
The following year, they kidnapped nine students and a professor from the grounds of their university.
They were taken away and summarily executed. Their remains were later found in an unmarked grave.
It is alleged the death squad was under the direct command of the Peruvian president.
Mr Fujimori is also charged with ordering the illegal detention and interrogation of a prominent journalist, Gustavo Gorriti, and businessman Samuel Dyer, also in 1992.
THE FUJIMORI ERA
1990: Wins a surprise victory at polls
1992: Dissolves Peru's congress with military backing, assuming greater control
1995: Restores congress and overwhelmingly wins a second term
2000: Re-elected for a third term amid allegations of ballot rigging
2000: Flees to Japan after Montesinos scandal breaks
2001-4: Japan refuses repeated attempts to extradite Fujimori
2005: Fujimori arrested on arrival in Chile on Peru's request
2007: Extradited from Chile to Peru
The trial is taking place at a police base on the outskirts of Lima, where Mr Fujimori has been held since being extradited from Chile in September, and is being played out on national television.
It is believed the proceedings could last for several months at least.
A media room for up to 170 journalists has been set up next door to the small courtroom, broadcasting proceedings via a live video feed.
The trial follows a long battle by the Peruvian authorities to have Mr Fujimori extradited from Chile.
Our correspondent says the chances are that if Mr Fujimori goes down he will take others with him.
Mr Fujimori is also due to stand trial at a later date for alleged corruption.