Peru: Three journalists released

Tuesday, October 8, 1996

THREE JOURNALISTS PARDONED AND RELEASED IN PERU

AT LEAST THREE MORE JOURNALISTS DESERVE PARDON
CASTIGLIONE IS FREE!

(Canadian Committee to Protect Journalists, 8 October1996) He's been in prison since April 1993. In August 1994, he received a 20 year jail sentence for "collaborating with terrorists." His conviction was based solely on the fact that he at one time rented the same apartment as members of Peru's notorious Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), a Maoist guerilla organization. A year after Castiglione vacated the apartment, Sendero guerillas used it as the base for an attack on a local jail, during which a Sendero prisoner escaped and a guard was killed.

Now, finally, Jesús Alfonso Castiglione Mendoza has been vindicated. On October 1st, the Day of the Journalist in Peru, President Alberto Fujimori announced the first three Peruvians, all journalists, to be pardoned, after an ad hoc commission began its work to review the cases of those convicted of terrorism on flimsy evidence. Press freedom groups in Peru and around the world worked hard and long to get that commission set up.

The Institute for Press and Society (IPYS) in Lima, a member of the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX), has fought tirelessly from the beginning for Castiglione's freedom. They mobilised the international freedom of expression community by distributing their alerts and updates through the IFEX Clearing House. IPYS and CCPJ nominated the journalist for a prestigious Hellman/Hammett award, which he won, and which prompted a renewed interest in his case. CCPJ provided emergency funds to his family through our Journalists in Distress Fund. Reporters sans frontières, the French press freedom group, met with President Fujimori last spring to appeal for Castiglione's release. Soon after, the president formed the commission to investigate the hundreds of people who have been charged with terrorism without sufficient evidence.

The following is an excerpt from the IFEX Communique (vol. 5 no. 40, 7 October 1996) 96. The Communique is a weekly look at freedom of expression around the world:

THREE JOURNALISTS PARDONED AND RELEASED IN PERU
AT LEAST THREE MORE JOURNALISTS DESERVE PARDON

Three journalists, whose release IFEX members have been campaigning for strenuously, were freed on 1 October, reports the Institute for Press and Society (IPYS), the Latin American regional office of the International Federation of Journalists (FIP) and Reporters sans frontières (RSF). Jesús Alfonso Castiglione Mendoza, Eduardo Sihue Cano and José Alvarez Pachas were released from the Miguel Castro Castro prison in Lima. Castiglione was serving a twenty-year prison sentence, and Sihue Cano and Alvarez Pachas were each serving six year terms, all on terrorism-related charges. Castiglione, former director of Radio Amistad, Alvarez, former editor-in-chief of the magazine Ayllu, and Sihue, former graphic artist for the magazine Cambio, had been imprisoned since 1993.

The three journalists were the first to be released from the first list presented to President Alberto Fujimori by an ad hoc commission headed by Ombudsman Jorge Santisteban de Noriega. The commission, created in August, "is in charge of reviewing the cases of approximately 400 people convicted of terrorism on flimsy evidence not sufficient to prove their guilt," says RSF. According to IPYS, the government announced in the official daily El Peruano that it had granted the first three in a series of 30 expected pardons for Peruvians wrongly detained on terrorism charges to the journalists. The resolution states that given that there is a reasonable presumption that the journalists "had no type of connection whatsoever with terrorist elements, activities or organizations," it was unanimously resolved that the three journalists be granted a pardon.

RSF welcomes the news of the release of the three journalists. However, it reminds people that there are still three other journalists currently in prison who should be granted a presidential pardon. RSF says Hermés Rivera Guerrero, detained since 8 May 1992, Javier Tuanama Valera, detained since 16 October 1990, and Augusto Llosa Giraldo, detained since 14 February 1995, have not had fair trials.

We will post updates as they come in.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: none

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