Torture chamber discovered at office of Peruvian spy chief

Peruvian officials have uncovered a long-rumoured torture chamber beneath the former offices of the disgraced National Intelligence Service chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, who is on the run from corruption charges.

Peruvian officials have uncovered a long-rumoured torture chamber beneath the former offices of the disgraced National Intelligence Service chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, who is on the run from corruption charges.

The discovery, made while President Alberto Fujimori is abroad in Panama, deepens the credibility crisis in Lima as the President tries to distance himself from the former spymaster who was, until September, his closest adviser. Mr Fujimori, accused of manipulating an election to win a third term, has promised to relinquish power next year.

The President's ex-wife, the opposition congresswoman Susana Higuchi, complained on local radio this week that eight of Mr Fujimori's henchmen tortured her last June with electric shocks, and that she has received more than 500 death threats since the bitter break-up of their marriage in 1994.

Last month, government authorities denied the existence of any clandestine interrogation complex under the spy headquarters near Las Palmas army base, where the former head of intelligence retreated after a bribery scandal broke and reportedly plotted a coup. Mr Montesinos, 54, is a cashiered army captain who has wielded enormous power beside Mr Fujimori for the past decade. He and a military entourage were denied exile in Panama last month.

Since then, Mr Montesinos has been hiding in Peru while evidence emerges of $58m (£40m), allegedly drugs money and extortion payments, held in personal Swiss bank accounts. Rumours that the head spy, known as Vlad the Impaler, crossed the frontier into Bolivia were discounted last week and a manhunt continues.

Underneath the offices, the Prime Minister, Federico Salas, inspected a dungeon housing half a dozen soundproofed cells behind a two-way mirror, as well as a large interrogation room. Mr Salas, who heads a government commission ordered to "deactivate" the notorious intelligence agency, which is known by its Spanish acronym SIN, told a press conference: "I cannot say if it was or was not used for torture. What I can say is that there are six rooms of confinement, each measuring four by two metres." An archway leading from the army base to the subterranean complex had been bricked over two months ago.

The comfortable air-conditioned cells appear to have been meant for high-level prisoners, and each had a bathroom. Mr Salas suggested that after the leader of the Maoist guerrilla group, Shining Path, was captured last year, he was held in the dungeon and interrogated at Mr Montesinos' leisure. Oscar Ramirez Durand was then convicted of treason and jailed for life.

A news magazine in Mexico City claims to have interviewed the fugitive spy by radio from a hide-out. Vladimiro Montesinos is quoted extensively in the current issue of Epoca, and claims he never abused human rights. He said he prevented soldiers from shooting the Shining Path commandos in cold blood and insisted they live to disclose their secrets.

Mr Montesinos said Mr Fujimori, 61, now "wants me dead" and that he is marked as "a sacrificial lamb".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
people70-year-old was most famous for 'You are So Beautiful'
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballLatest score and Twitter updates
Arts and Entertainment
David Hasselhof in Peter Pan
The US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'