Police in Peru have been accused of executing two escaped prisoners to secure their silence, offering a timely illustration of why the Peruvian government has pushed through new legislation toughening punishments in cases of police corruption.
Police say the two were killed in a shootout after they opened fire on officers raiding the fugitives' hideout. However, a third fugitive, Carlos Timana Copara, who was with the pair at the time and was injured in the assault, has claimed the prisoners had surrendered to police, who then removed the bulletproof vests the pair were wearing and shot them in the chest. The dead men's families supported the claims (see video below).
Timana also accused a police captain of accepting a bribe to help the prisoners escape. One former police major has already been arrested in connection with the prison break.
Police denied the claims and dismissed Timana's accusations as "the story of a criminal."
Hernandez and Rosas were awaiting prosecution after admitting accepting approximately $7,000 to murder journalist Luis Choy in February but had not identified who had paid them for the hit. There has been speculation the pair were killed to ensure their silence either in this case or to prevent them identifying accomplices in their escape from prison.
As the dramatic events of the escape and chase gripped the Peruvian media, new rules governing the prosecution of corrupt police officers came into effect, reported Prensa Latina. The legislation creates new mechanisms for investigating and punishing officers, including civilian trials for officers.
InSight Crime Analysis
The truth of who ordered the hit on the journalist, how the fugitives escaped and whether they died fighting or were executed is unlikely to come out. However, the strange and contradictory details of the case certainly hint at corruption and murky connections between the worlds of officialdom and organized crime.
Whatever the outcome of the case, it reinforces the need to take a tough stance on police corruption, and the new laws addressing this mark a positive step in this endeavour. According to Peru's Interior Minister Wilfredo Pedraza, so far this year 900 police are under investigation or have been punished for crimes such as participation or complicity in drug trafficking, kidnapping, money laundering and robbery, or lesser infractions such as appropriating police weapons and equipment.