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Peru court frees alleged death squad members detained for 6 years without trial

[JURIST] A Peruvian court on Tuesday ruled that two alleged members of the Colina Group [AI backgrounder] must be released without charge after six years in custody. Douglas Arteaga Pascual and Angel Pino Diaz were never convicted during the 72 months they spent in prison. Peruvian law mandates that prisoners be released after 32 months if they have not been convicted. A lawyer for the Pro Human Rights Association (APRODEH) [advocacy website, in Spanish] warned [press release, in Spanish] that the Human Rights Prosecutor now has the responsibility to ensure the safety of the witnesses, their families, and the prosecutors involved in the cases in which Diaz and Pascual are implicated.

The Colina group is suspected of being responsible for the 1991 Altos Barrios tenement and 1992 La Cantuta [MIT backgrounder] massacres. Former president Alberto Fujimori [BBC profile, JURIST news archive] is currently on trial [JURIST report] for allegedly ordering the Colina Group to use brutal tactics to eradicate Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) [BBC backgrounder] leadership. A verdict is expected in March, and Fujimori faces a possible sentence of up to 30 years if convicted.

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