Vladimiro Montesinos sentenced to prison for 1992 massacre in Peru 

By February 2, 2024

Lima, Peru — Vladimiro Montesinos, a close advisor to Peru’s former President Alberto Fujimori, was sentenced on Wednesday to 19 years and eight months in prison for his involvement in two massacres in 1992. 

Imprisoned since 2001 for other crimes, Montesinos will reportedly receive time served for the massacres, and is scheduled to be released in 2026. 

A former intelligence chief, Montesinos pleaded guilty on January 29 to charges of homicide and forced disappearance for his role in the Pativilca and La Cantuta massacres, which were carried out by an undercover military group called “Colina.”

In addition to Montesinos, 21 other individuals, including Fujimori, are facing charges in the same case. During the hearing, Fujimori announced to the court that he would not opt for an expedited trial and decided to continue with the proceedings to prove his innocence.

Fujimori, 85, was convicted of human rights violations in 2009 but was released from prison last December. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) has disputed his release. 

Read more: Could convicted human rights abuser Alberto Fujimori remain free forever after recent prison release? 

Former President Alberto Fujimori. Image courtesy of ANDINA.

The Pativilca and La Cantuta Massacres

In January of 1992, a military unit known as the Colina carried out a massacre in Pativilca, a town in the central Lima region of Peru.

The military kidnapped, tortured, and killed six people they accused of being connected to the Shining Path, a leftist rebel group that was heavily active in the 1990s. 

Montesinos reportedly ordered the massacre. 

The former intelligence officer was also involved in the July 18, 1992 La Cantuta massacre. 

On that day, Colina members kidnapped and killed nine students and a professor from the National University of Education Enrique Guzmán and Valle, better known as La Cantuta.

The massacres were part of former President Fujimori’s hard-nosed strategy to combat leftist insurgencies in Peru in the 1990s. 

Who is Vladimiro Montesinos?

Vladimiro Montesinos was a prominent Peruvian intelligence chief and advisor to President Fujimori. 

He served as the head of the National Intelligence Service (SIN) in Peru from 1990 to 2000. Montesinos wielded significant power and influence, often acting as Fujimori’s right-hand man. However, his tenure was marred by allegations of corruption, human rights abuses, and involvement in illegal activities.

Montesinos played a key role in Fujimori’s government, especially during the fight against the Shining Path insurgency. However, his actions became increasingly controversial, leading to a series of scandals. In 2000, a series of leaked videos revealed Montesinos bribing politicians, judges, and media figures. This scandal led to the downfall of Fujimori’s regime, and both Montesinos and Fujimori fled the country.

Montesinos was later apprehended in Venezuela in 2001 and extradited to Peru. He faced numerous charges, including corruption, human rights abuses, and arms trafficking. In 2006, he was convicted on multiple counts and sentenced to prison.