Friday, March 7, 2008

$37 Million Human Rights Award

The relationship between human rights abuse and refugee issues is clear. Congratulations to the Center for Justice and Accountability for this amazing award.

Dear Friends of CJA,

We are very pleased to report, that earlier this week, a federal judge in Miami ordered former Peruvian Major Telmo Hurtado Hurtado to pay $37 million in damages to plaintiffs Teófila Ochoa Lizarbe and Cirila Pulido Baldeón and the estates of their family members who were killed in the Accomarca Massacre of 1985 in Peru. This is the first time that anyone has been held to account for atrocities committed in connection with the Accomarca Massacre.

A trial on damages was held in Miami in February where Judge Adalberto Jordan heard emotional and courageous testimony from our clients. Our clients were both twelve at the time of the massacre and survived by hiding. They testified about their harrowing experiences when Major Hurtado and his troops murdered 69 civilians in the remote mountain village of Accomarca, including Ms. Ochoa Lizarbe's mother, four brothers and a sister, and Ms. Pulido Baldeón's mother and infant brother.

In awarding punitive damages, the judge said, "Mr. Hurtado said he was following orders to capture and destroy the enemy, and justified the killing of children and infants by explaining that the young would be indoctrinated by the Sendero Luminoso [the Shining Path]." The judge also found it significant that "Mr. Hurtado expressed no remorse for his actions."

This decision is a very significant victory for survivors of the massacre and in the movement for justice and accountability for abuses committed by the military against the civilian population in Peru during the 1980's.

Once again, please join me in congratulating our courageous clients, expert witnesses former Peruvian Senator Javier Diez Canseco and Eduardo Gonzalez of the International Center for Transitional Justice, Ana Deutsch of the Program for Victims of Torture, and all the others who came together to make this case a success.

The $37 million damages award has received widespread coverage in the U.S. and Spanish language print media and on the internet. Below please find a copy of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel article that appeared in yesterday's paper. For more information on the case, please see the press release in English and Spanish or visit our website, www.cja.org.

All the best,

Pamela Merchant
Executive Director

P.S.: CJA relies on contributions from individuals like you to continue our work. Thanks to the generosity of the JEHT Foundation, each new dollar donated to CJA will be matched. Please consider making a donation today. http://www.cja.org/donate/donate.shtml

bh

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