Former Peruvian soldiers get prison in rapes of teenagers during country's armed conflict

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Ten men were convicted Wednesday in Peru for raping nine teenagers while serving in the military during the country’s armed conflict decades ago.

Judge Marco Angulo, of Peru’s First Superior Criminal Court, ordered the former soldiers to serve time in prison, with sentences ranging between six and 12 years. Authorities accused them of raping the teenagers between 1984 and 1994 in the Andean community of Manta.

Angulo said that the absence of constitutional guarantees in the community during the armed conflict “turned the possibility of reporting sexual abuse into marginal acts and of no attention.” He added that the victims lived amid social rejection that forced them “to carry their claim for their violated rights in the most absolute helplessness.”

“The decision adopted is a message that... is aimed at respecting the fundamental rights of people even in the harshest social crises facing the nation,” Angulo said.

After the sentences were announced, prosecutors, who sought harsher sentences, and attorneys for the victims said they will evaluate Angulo’s decision to decide whether to challenge it.

The war that raged between the Peruvian military and the Shining Path communist insurgency from 1980 to 2000 left an estimated 70,000 people dead, the majority of them in rural areas.

Prosecutors began looking into the teenagers’ accusations in 2004 after a special commission investigating the armed conflict published a report detailing among other abuses suffered by civilians in Manta that “sexual violence was a persistent and daily practice” for which “the members of the Army stationed in the local military bases were mainly responsible.”

Angulo on Wednesday said the rapes sometimes occurred when the teenagers were entering their homes after being threatened with rifles, or after being detained and accused without evidence of being part of the Shining Path. One victim reported having a scar on her hip left by a soldier using a knife to cut her underwear.

The Associated Press