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  Exhumations in Totos

Press Release Nº 112

Second day of exhumations

With the findings of the remains of three people assassinated in 1983, the exhumation of the clandestine grave located in the area of Sancaypata, district of Totos, province of Cangallo – Ayacucho, ended today.
According to the preliminary information given by the Ombudsman’s Office, in this grave there should have been the remains of 15 people, allegedly assassinated by the Army. However, only the remains of three people were found. Although the investigation has not ended, the forensic experts that exhumed the grave explained they had found evidence that led them to think that it had been broken into, and that the remains had been spread by the animals in the area. This information will be confirmed at the end of the investigations.
This work is carried out by the Joint Work Platform for the Investigation of Mass Graves, which includes the Prosecutor’s Office, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Ombudsman’s Office and the Human Rights National Coordinator. The procedure ended at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
The procedure was attended by the Special Prosecutor for Forced Disappearances, Extra-judicial Executions and Exhumations of Clandestine Graves, Felipe Villavicencio, commissioner Alberto Morote in representation for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the representative of the Ombudsman’s Office of Ayacucho, Sonia Rojas, and Pablo Rojas, representative of the Human Rights National Coordinator.
On the second day of work the remains of the first body found in the grave named Sancaypata 2 were recovered, while in the Sancaypata 1 grave the only things found were one bullet casing, some jaw bones and some clothing.
A third grave was also opened, called Sancaypata 3, where also some bullet casings were found, manufactured in 1981, and some clothing.
The remains of two other bodies were found in the grave called Sancaypata 2, where the first body was found. A total of three bodies was found in that grave, two of which were in a good state of preservation.

Explanation to the relatives
Two days after starting the exhumation, Prosecutor Felipe Villavicencio authorized the presence of the relatives of the possible victims at the site. They looked into the open grave trying to recognize the clothing of their loved ones missing, or some sign that would allow them to identify them.
For some minutes and with the aid of an interpreter, Prosecutor Villavicencio explained to the relatives the work carried out by the forensic experts. He told them that they were trying to gather together as much evidence as possible, that would help them to identify the remains that had been exhumed with some certainty. He also told them that this was a long and very painful process and he asked them for cooperation.
It should be noted that the relatives of the victims possibly buried in this place have accompanied the process since the beginning. They stayed there during the day when the forensic experts started the process for recovering the remains of the people buried in these graves.
For many the experience has been painful, and therefore the support provided by the group of psychologists from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission at the site was very valuable. They talked to each one of the relatives that came to the site of Sancaypata, where the exhumation of the graves was carried out.

Procedures at Ccarpacassa to start tomorrow
This afternoon, a delegation from the Prosecutor’s Office and forensic experts went to the site of Ccarpacassa in order to delimit the place where the exhumation will start tomorrow. They will also visit the cemetery, where part of the remains that will be exhumed tomorrow at the graves of Ccarpacassa are supposedly buried.
According to existing information, between April 8th and 15th, 1983, four people were arrested in the district of Totos by combined forces of the Army from the Base of Totos and the Police from the area. These people were accused of being part of the Shining Path and appeared on a list of alleged terrorists because they did not go to the community meetings convoked by the Police in the area.
According to the preliminary information on this case, the remains of four people would be buried in the grave of Ccarpacassa and the remains of two more would be at the local cemetery. All this information will be confirmed at the end of these investigations.

Lima, August 27th, 2002

Joint Work Platform in the Investigation of Mass Graves