Shining Path trial: special court in the cross-fire

07 November 2005 by Lucien Chauvin

The retrial of Peru's Maoist Shining Path rebel group entered its second full month with the defense and prosecution spending more time questioning the court than each other. Guzmán's attorney, Manuel Fajardo, spent the first month of the trial objecting to the court, its location on a military base and the generic charge of terrorism. He also continued his fight against the retrial itself, putting forth motions for dismissal based on "double jeopardy," since Guzmán already stood trial on terrorism after his arrest in September 1992 *see IJT-33+. The prosecutor did not stand idly by either.

State Attorney Guillermo Cabala has questioned the court on several occasions, actually accusing it of being a platform for airing terrorist grievances. Cabala was fined $3,000 on October 20 for saying that the court "has become a platform from which Shining Path leaders can proclaim that they are political prisoners." One of three judges on the court, Jimena Cayo, warned Cabala that he could be suspended for two months if he continued with his attacks. Cabala's comments came after the court allowed the defense to call additional witnesses and decided to review on a case-by-case basis the use of witnesses whose identities the prosecution wants to keep secret for their protection.

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