Prosecutor orders Peru guerilla leader's cremation within 24 hours

Lima (AFP) –


Peru's prosecution service on Thursday ordered the cremation within 24 hours of the body of guerrilla leader Abimael Guzman, who died in a high security prison on September 11 aged 86.

The order signaled the closure of the investigation into his death in detention while serving a life sentence for crimes committed at the helm of the brutal Shining Path guerrilla group, which spread terror across Peru in the 1980s and 1990s.

Guzman's also-imprisoned widow and Shining Path second-in-command Elena Iparraguirre had requested that Guzman's body be turned over to her for burial.

But officials were concerned that Guzman's gravesite could become a rallying point for any remaining followers, and there was widespread support for his body to instead be cremated and the ashes spread in the Pacific Ocean.

Last Friday, Congress approved a bill allowing authorities to cremate the body once all investigations are complete.

The former guerrilla’s body is in a morgue of the port of Callao, west of Lima, since his death from double pneumonia -- an infection that inflames both lungs and has been associated with Covid-19.

He and Iparraguirre were captured together in September 1992 and married in 2010, despite being held in different prisons.

A former philosophy professor, Guzman was the architect of the Maoist guerilla group's brutal 20-year attempt to overthrow the Peruvian government from 1980 to 2000. The conflict claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Guzman embraced the brutal guerilla methods of Cambodian dictator Pol Pot, including ordering the massacre of an Andean village in 1984 that left 117 people dead.