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Peruvian ex-soldiers accused of 'systematic' rape

Retired Peruvian military officers appear in court to face charges of rape
Retired Peruvian military officers appear in court to face charges of rape AFP
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Lima (AFP)

A Peruvian judge said Wednesday that soldiers had committed crimes against humanity by "systematically" raping nine female farmers between 1984 and 1995 during the conflict with the Shining Path guerrillas.

"Because this is a crime against humanity, the trial will take place in public hearings," Judge Edhin Campos said.

Fourteen non-commissioned officers who are now retired were accused of having repeatedly raped nine women in the Andean region of Huancavelica, one of Peru's poorest, during the bloodiest period of the conflict between the military and the Maoist guerrillas.

"It's a historic decision... We are not talking about isolated instances of rape but systematic rape on military bases," said Juan Jose Quispe, an attorney for six of the victims.

"We are now waiting for the trial to take place within two years and for those responsible to face the law and be sentenced."

Prosecutors said that several of the women became pregnant as a result of the rapes, and more women likely were raped, but some are afraid to speak up about the crimes.

Five of the women got pregnant and were "scarred for life because they were very young when the events took place," said lawyer Cynthia Silva of the Demus rights group.

On Twitter, the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations hailed progress for "the victims' right to the truth."

The case was presented to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2003. The panel investigated for four years.

Hundreds of cases of rape and other sexual abuse, forced prostitution and abortions, as well as sexual slavery took place during the two decades of conflict in Peru from 1980 to 2000, according to the commission.

A total of 538 people testified about sexual abuses before the commission, including 527 women and 11 men.

Some 4,567 rapes took place during the conflict, along with 1,500 cases of different forms of sexual violence, according to the Justice Ministry's victims registry.

More than 69,000 people died or disappeared during Peru's internal conflict, with abuses on both sides, according to the commission.

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