Peru probes police ‘death squads’ after killings

Latin America

Peru probes police 'death squads' after killings

In Peru, public acknowledgment by the government that police death squads likely have operated in the country, and were responsible for at least 20 deaths, perhaps many more since 2012. A preliminary report has identified nine police officers, including a general, as being behind the killings.

CCTV America’s Dan Collyns reports.

Peru police \"death squads\" drive public calls for reform

Peru police \"death squads\" drive public calls for reform

In Peru, public acknowledgment by the government that police death squads likely have operated in the country, and were responsible for at least 20 deaths, perhaps many more since 2012. A preliminary report has identified nine police officers, including a general, as being behind the killings. CCTV America’s Dan Collyns reports.

This long-awaited preliminary report confirms what the Peru government calls ‘serious indications’ that a group of police officers illegally killed at least 20 civilians, many of whom may have been totally innocent of any crime.

In doing so, it said, they were trying to win promotions and rewards from superiors by appearing to stop dangerous criminals.

“There are serious indications of the existence of an irregular group made up of national police officers and junior officers who, in order to obtain personal benefit, falsified intelligence information to simulate clashes and killed people in at least six cases,” Peruvian Vice Interior Minister, Ruben Vargas said.

Peru’s vice minister of the interior didn’t name any of the officers under investigation but said one of them has been decorated six times for his service and promoted to commander.

Those killed had been presented as outlaws and the police lauded as heroes.

The truth was quite different, said the vice minister.

“The working group notes that 11 of the 20 suspected criminals who were killed in these interventions did not even have criminal records or requests to testify that would have made them the targets of the police interventions that were carried out,” Vargas said.

The alleged death squad had access to sensitive information reserved for a special police group set up to combat organized crime, he said.

The allegations, which were first leaked to the press in July, have only compounded the police force’s poor reputation among Peruvians.

These latest allegations are driving public calls for deep reform in a police force racked with accusations of corruption and links to the criminal underworld.

The report is now being sent to the prosecutor’s office for possible criminal proceedings.