Rodrigo Grande-Vargas, born in 1965 in Áncash (Peru), was a policeman before the civil war against the Shining Path between 1984 and 1993. He was suspected of having joined paramilitary death squads, supported by the government, and of having participated in the torture and killing of members of the communist guerilla movement.
In 2002, he took refuge in the United Kingdom where he sought political asylum.
In the process of his application for asylum, Grande-Vargas gave very detailed accounts of his past and his involvement in the torture, as well as in the detention and killing of numerous persons in Peru. This information was passed to the counter terrorism department of the Metropolitan Police.
On 15 March 2011, Grande-Vargas was arrested by the British police for his alleged involvement in crimes against humanity and acts of torture committed in Peru between 1984 and 1993. An investigation was opened in the UK for his alleged participation in the activity of the paramilitary death squads responsible for the killing and torture of hundreds of thousands of civilians during the internal war against the Shining Path.
During the investigation, the police discovered a forged Spanish passport, for which Grande-Vargas was remanded in custody.
On 19 August 2011, the Exeter court sentenced him to 12 months imprisonment for the possession of a false passport. In October 2011, the Court of Appeal reduced his penalty to eight months in prison.
After serving his sentence, on 31 January 2012 Grande-Vargas was extradited to Peru, thus putting an end to the investigation by the British Police.
The arrest of Grande-Vargas in the United Kingdom was possible after the latest change in the law that extended the cut-off point for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
THE INTERNAL ARMED CONFLICT
Peru held in 1980 its first free elections after 12 years under authoritarian regimes. However, the elections saw the beginning of terrorist actions by the communist group known as Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), promoter of a revolution by means of armed violence. In 1982 another leftist formation, called Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru (MRTA), joined the armed struggle against governmental forces.
In 1990 the election of Alberto Fujimori as Peru’s President marked a turning point in the conflict. On 5 April 1992 Fujimori suspended the Constitution and dissolved the Congress, officially too slow to vote anti-terrorism legislation. The army was given new powers, and military courts were instituted to try those suspected of being members of terrorist groups.
On 12 September 1992 Shining Path’s leader Abimael Guzmán Reynoso was arrested in Lima. The event significantly downgraded the movement’s operational capacity, though violent acts continued to be committed throughout the country.
In 1995 the Peruvian Congress passed an Amnesty Law to cover all crimes committed by government officials and civil servants in the struggle against the rebels.
In 2000 Fujimori fled to Japan, fearing to be prosecuted in Peru for crimes committed during his Presidency. The new Peruvian Government immediately repealed the 1995 Amnesty Law.
In September 2010, President Alan García, under pressure from activists, backtracked on a new law setting limits to the prosecution of human rights abuses committed before 2003. He asked the Congress to repeal the decree he personally issued two weeks earlier.
THE TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
In 2001 the Peruvian Government established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission aimed at investigating on crimes perpetrated during the armed conflict by both governmental forces and rebel groups.
The Commission released its final report in 2003, pointing out that between 1980 and 2000 about 70’000 Peruvians were killed or disappeared as a consequence of the war. According to the Commission, about half of these casualties is attributable to the Shining Path, whilst about a third is attributable to State agents.
Violence in Peru did not end in 2000. Though with minor intensity, rebel forces continue to carry out their operations until nowadays.
On 7 April 2009, Alberto Fujimori was declared guilty by a special court in Lima of human rights abuses, of murder by an army death squad and kidnapping and was sentenced to 25 years.