Conflicts & War

Shining Path leader dies of pneumonia in Peruvian prison

Lima, Sep 12 (EFE).- The founder and long-time leader of Peru’s Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) guerrilla group, Abimael Guzman, died in prison of pneumonia on the weekend, according to his autopsy, and his remains will be turned over to a designated representative, the Peruvian Public Ministry reported Sunday.

One day after Guzman died in the Callao Naval Base prison, where he had been serving a life sentence for terrorism, the Public Ministry said that the autopsy concluded that the rebel leader’s cause of death was bilateral pneumonia caused by a pathological agent.

The conclusion is subject to the results of the pathological, toxicological and chemical tests, among others, performed by Peruvian authorities, the ministry said.

In addition, regarding the identification of the 86-year-old Guzman, the ministry added that the results of DNA, fingerprint, odontogram and extensive other testing performed on the body are still pending but when they become available they will be added to the investigation being undertaken by the Third Penal District of Callao.

One of the issues under discussion as a result of the death of the terrorist leader is the disposition of his remains, given that the Pedro Castillo administration has opted for cremation to prevent there from being a gravesite or tomb to which his followers or like-minded individuals could make pilgrimages.

In addition, the Justice Ministry warned that tributes to terrorist leaders like Guzman will be considered – and prosecuted – as “defending terrorism,” a crime in Peru which carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years.

Nevertheless, the Public Ministry said in its statement that the general health law and criminal code establish that “the remains must be turned over to the direct and properly authorized relatives.”

In this regard, the ministry confirmed that Iris Quiñonez had asked the Third District to turn over Guzman’s body to her, saying that she has a power of attorney authorized by his wife, Elena Iparraguirre, who is considered to be the No. 2 figure within Shining Path and who was also sentenced to life behind bars for terrorism.

This petition will be evaluated in the coming hours by Peruvian authorities in accord with prevailing legal rules and regulations.

Guzman’s death came one day after the 29th anniversary of his arrest in Lima by police officers with the Special Intelligence Group.

The Communist Party of Peru-Shining Path, commonly referred to simply as the Shining Path, is a revolutionary communist party and guerrilla group launched in 1980 in Peru during the country’s internal conflict and adhering to Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and Gonzalo Thought.

The goal of the group was to overthrow the state and replace it with a so-called “New Democracy” and a dictatorship of the proletariat, leading ultimately to world revolution.

The Shining Path has been widely condemned for its violence and brutality against peasants, trade union organizers, competing Marxist groups, elected officials and the general public. It is deemed to be a terrorist organization by Peru, Japan, the United States, the European Union and Canada.

Since Shining Path founder Guzman was captured in 1992 and other leaders over the next 20 years, the group has declined in activity, but it is still operating in Peru’s largely rural Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro River Valleys (VRAEM) region.

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