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Leader of Peruvian Rebellion Sentenced

October 14, 2006|From the Associated Press

CALLAO, Peru — Shining Path founder Abimael Guzman, whose communist vision inspired a 12-year rebellion that cost nearly 70,000 lives, was found guilty Friday of aggravated terrorism and sentenced to life in prison.

The 71-year-old former philosophy professor stood impassively with his hands crossed in front of his waist as a court clerk read the sentence, ending a yearlong civilian retrial.

Guzman's longtime lover and second in command, Elena Iparraguirre, 59, also received a life sentence. Ten other codefendants received sentences ranging from 24 to 35 years.

After the sentences were announced, Guzman reached over and kissed Iparraguirre's hand, then gave her a light embrace.

His lawyer, Manuel Fajardo, said earlier that appeals were planned both in Peru and internationally.

Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Guzman was known to his followers as Presidente Gonzalo. He inspired a cultlike obedience among members of the Sendero Luminoso, whose Maoist insurgency grew to 10,000 armed fighters.

Most Peruvians have little sympathy for Guzman, whose followers celebrated bloodshed in song and slogans.

The Shining Path bombed electrical towers, bridges and factories, assassinated mayors and massacred villagers, including 69 peasants in the Andean village of Lucanamarca, where nearly two dozen children were among those shot and hacked to death in retaliation for the killings of several rebels.

Guzman gloated about the massacre in a 1988 interview.

A government-appointed commission in 2003 blamed the Shining Path for 54% of the nearly 70,000 estimated deaths and disappearances caused by rebel violence and a brutal state backlash from 1980 to 2000.

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