Life Sentence for Shining Path’s “Camarada Artemio”

By Dialogo
June 11, 2013

A Peruvian court sentenced Florencio Flores Hala, “Camarada Artemio,” to life in prison on June 7. He was the last historical leader of the Shining Path guerrillas and was found guilty of terrorism, drug trafficking and money laundering.

After an extensive reading of over seven hours, the court said that “Artemio is sentenced to life in prison for crimes against public health in grievance to the State, illicit drug trafficking and terrorism.”

“Artemio,” a war name used by Flores Hala for over two decades, was present in a court room at Callao Navy Base penitentiary in the west of Lima, to hear his sentencing, which was the culmination to a six month process.

The former guerrilla listened to the sentence in silence and only raised his fist to look at the press when the sentence was announced.

As part of the sentence, the court imposed a fine of $182 million for civil damages.

Artemio’s defense announced that they would appeal the ruling and submit an annulment letter.

“It is a political statement. He is a political prisoner,” his lawyer Alfredo Crespo stated.

The guerrilla leader was captured in February 2012 by the combined police and army forces in the Peruvian jungle.

Fifty-one-year-old “Camarada Artemio,” former regional guerrilla leader in the valley of Alto Huallaga, led attacks against security forces in the region of the central Peruvian jungle, also known as a center of operations for drug trafficking rings, and the place where he looked for refuge after Abimael Guzmán, founder and historic leader of the Shining Path, was captured in September 1992.

During the trial, he denied being a terrorist and defined himself as a “revolutionary” in the “heroic People’s War,” an armed conflict that left 69,000 dead or missing in Peru between 1980 and 2000.

The Peruvian prosecution had accused him of about 500 terrorist acts, the deaths of about 60 police officers, selected civilian murders, as well as drug trafficking and money laundering in Peru, one of the main cocaine producers worldwide.

“Artemio” is considered to be loyal to Guzmán, and he was one of the last members of the Shining Path’s Central Committee who had not been convicted because he spent over two decades in hiding.

During the trial, “Artemio” categorically denied his alleged connections with drug trafficking.

“We have never been involved with drug trafficking, we have always rejected it,” he stated and added that he even confronted them and took action against them in several Amazon towns, where drug traffickers were perpetrating abuses against peasants.

“Artemio” will do his time at the maximum security penitentiary located at El Callao Naval Base, where Abimael Guzmán, known by his followers as “President Gonzalo,” and Vladimiro Montesinos, former aid in Alberto Fujimori’s government who led the fight against guerrillas from the shadows, are also imprisoned for life.

With “Camarada Artemio’s” capture, the Peruvian government intensified the search for Víctor Quispe Palomino, aka “Camarada José,” leader of the Shining Path’s active faction in the Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro Rivers Valley, in the southeast part of the country.