Fujimori wants death penalty for Guzman

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The Independent Online
LIMA (AFP) - President Alberto Fujimori has not ruled out the death penalty for the leader of the Shining Path guerrillas, Abimael Guzman, who remains incommunicado and under intense interrogation at police headquarters.

'I would be in favour of the death penalty for Abimael . . . the punishment should be similar to the crimes committed,' Mr Fujimori said late on Monday. Although capital punishment is banned by law, 'the issue should be closely examined and public opinion must be considered,' Mr Fujimori said, referring to countless demands appearing in the press that Guzman be put to death.

Earlier in the day, the President made a surprise visit to Guzman in his cell, but authorities did not disclose what, if anything, was said during the brief encounter. Guzman, 57, founder and leader of the Maoist rebel group that has been blamed for 25,000 deaths since 1980, was captured late on Saturday in a move the government hopes will eventually stem guerrilla violence.

The President said that Guzman, who after his arrest was taken to the heavily guarded headquarters of the National Anti-Terrorist Directorate (Dincote), would soon be moved to a maximum security prison.

Guzman's lawyer, Alfredo Crespo, attempted to visit his client on Monday but was turned away by police. The lawyer has protested about a videotape shown on television on Sunday showing the bearded guerrilla leader bare-chested with a prisoner number around his neck.

Guzman, who was captured without a struggle along with five women and two men, will probably be the first rebel to be tried for high treason in a military court, according to a new, anti-terrorist law passed by Mr Fujimori in June, two months after he assumed emergency decree powers.

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