Abimael Guzman, the former leader of Peru’s infamous guerrilla group, faces trial for a second life sentence for terrorism for the 1992 “Tarata bombing” that killed 25 people in Lima.
The 82-year-old extremist leader went before a judge Tuesday Feb. 28 along with his comrades from the Shining Path, including his wife Elena Iparraguirre and Oscar Ramirez.
Guzman, who is currently serving a life in prison sentence for attempting to overthrow the state, only spoke to ask for medical care for his deteriorating health. His lawyer said that members of the group of a lower rank ordered the bombing without Guzman's knowledge.
Once known as the Communist Party of Peru, the Shining Path guerrilla unleashed an internal conflict in Peru between 1980-2000. It is estimated that at least 70,000 people were killed during the fighting between the rebels and government forces.
The armed group has been internationally condemned for its brutality against campesinos and Indigenous people. It is classified as a terrorist organization by the Peruvian government, the U.S. and the European Union.
According to authorities, Shining Path militants travel to isolated communities in order to hide from soldiers. They then move from one area to another by using children as human shields.
The “Tarata bombing” was the deadliest bombing by the guerilla group in their campaign against the Peruvian government. It led to an increased crackdown on the group by then-President Alberto Fujimori, where the state also carried out a number of human rights violations.
In 2012, the army captured Florindo Eleuterio Flores Hala, known as Comrade Artemio, who allegedly was the last head of the organization.
However, the group resurged and are now believed to be hidden in the jungle near the Apurimac River, which is the largest coca growing basin in the world.
Peru has become the biggest cocaine producer and exporter in the world. The Shining Path has been accused of working with drug-traffickers from the region, while forcing farmers to make their living selling coca leaves.