In Peru Government sentences soldiers to jail for 1985 massacre

Remnant bands of rebels still operate in remote regions, with close ties to drug trafficking.

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Relatives of 71 people massacred in 1985 by a military patrol in the Andean city of Accomarca, chant slogans asking for justice, outside a court in Lima, Peru, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. play

Relatives of 71 people massacred in 1985 by a military patrol in the Andean city of Accomarca, chant slogans asking for justice, outside a court in Lima, Peru, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016.

(AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
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A Peruvian court on Thursday sentenced former army officers and soldiers to jail for killing dozens of peasants in an Andean village 31 years ago during the height of a conflict between the government and Shining Path rebels.

In so-called Accomarca massacre in August 1985, 71 villagers died, including 23 children.

Soldiers stormed the town near Ayacucho in search of subversive material but found no ammunition, explosives or Shining Path propaganda, according to Peru's truth commission.

Troops led by officer Telmo Hurtado then separated men from a group of women and children, before ordering them shot and set on fire. Hurtado has admitted to the massacre but says he was following higher orders.

The Court sentenced Hurtado to 23 years in jail. He was arrested in the United States on immigration violations in 2007 and extradited to Peru to face charges related to the massacre in 2011.

Four other officials were sentenced to 24 or 25 years and several soldiers will face 10 years in jail. Only Hurtado is currently in custody.

Peru's truth commission estimated some 69,000 people died or went missing in two decades of conflict with the Shining Path. The commission blamed the rebel group for most killings and state authorities for about a third.

Remnant bands of rebels still operate in remote regions, with close ties to drug trafficking.

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