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Trial of Peru Rebel Leader Is Suspended

November 13, 2004

CALLAO, Peru (AP) _ The trial of Shining Path rebel leader Abimael Guzman was suspended again Friday for after one judge stepped down and prosecutors insisted that the lead judge follow suit.

The disruption came a week after judges suspended the first hearing when Guzman and five of his co-defenders shouted revolutionary slogans.

Guzman, 69, who led the bloody rebel insurgency for more than a decade until his capture 12 years ago, and 15 co-defendants are on trial on terrorism charges.

Friday’s hearing began with jusge Carlos Manrique recusing himself, saying he had participated in other rebel trials and his partiality might be questioned.

Prosecutors then demanded that lead judge Dante Terrel also step down since he had defended terrorist suspects before he became a judge.

Terrel angrily refused. ``I have not done anything to justify my stepping down in this case.″

The hearing was suspended after an hour and a half when attorneys on both sides were unable to reach an agreement on Terrel’s suitability.

The next hearing is scheduled for Monday.

A week ago judges suspended a hearing when Guzman and the others defiantly stood up, pumped their fists and chanted rebel slogans.

Guzman launched his insurgency in 1980. He was captured in 1992 and sentenced by a secret military tribunal to life in prison without parole. A truth commission last year blamed the Shining Path for 54 percent of the nearly 70,000 deaths and disappearances caused by rebel violence and a brutal state backlash.

Last year, Peru’s Constitutional Tribunal ruled the secret military courts created by former President Alberto Fujimori in the 1990s unconstitutional and prosecutors brought new charges against Guzman and other convicted rebels in civilian court.

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