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Peru Cardinal denies allegations of death squad inaction

Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima has defended himself against allegations that he knew about a 1992 massacre by a paramilitary death squad before it became generally known but remained silent.

Alberto Bustamante, a former justice minister and chief of the Cabinet, claimed in radio interviews that the military had found the bodies of nine university students and a professor in July 1992 and asked Cipriani's advice on how to handle the incident.

During a homily on Friday, Cipriani denied that he was ever told about the deaths or that he knew the general, Luis Perez.

"You wanted the response and now you have it," he said. "I am not afraid of the truth, but vileness makes me indignant." He added that the allegations have "trampled" his and the church's dignity.

Cipriani said that he would cooperate with a court that is investigating the killings and another massacre of 15 supposed rebels in 1991.

Bustamante said he was basing his report on comments made by jailed ex-spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos. He said that Montesinos, then a top presidential adviser, told people at a gathering in July 2000 that the general called Cipriani about the massacre and the cardinal responded that the families of the dead should be notified.

News of the massacre did not surface until late in 1992 when journalists from the magazine Si discovered the bodies buried on a hillside outside Lima.

Another army general who went into exile charged in 1993 that a military death squad had massacred the students and professor on suspicion they were members of a guerrilla group that was waging war against the government.

Montesinos is awaiting trial on dozens of charges, from corruption and arms trafficking to directing the death squad.

Cardinal denies knowledge of massacre (CNN-AP 31/8/02)
Juan Luis Cardinal Cipriani Thorne, Opus Dei, Archbishop of Lima (


5 Sep 2002