( Reuters ) - Peruvian death squad gunmen drank beer and shared birthday cake on the beach after killing 15 people at a neighborhood barbecue, one of them said on Monday at the trial of former President Alberto Fujimori on human rights crimes.
Fujimori faces up to 30 years in prison if found guilty of ordering the "Barrios Altos" massacre in Lima in 1991 as well as other extrajudicial killings during Peru's war against the Maoist guerrilla group known as Shining Path.
Pedro Supo, who drove the get-away car on the night of the massacre, said members of the "Colina" death squad threw a party for their leader, Santiago Martin, at a beachfront military base after the slaughter.
"We sat around a table and saw a newsflash on TV about what happened. We saw that a child had died, then we had a toast for the birthday of Martin Rivas. We sang him happy birthday and had beer," Supo said. When the beer ran dry, they drank liquor until dawn.
Supo did not say if Fujimori ordered the attack, in which an eight-year-old boy was among the victims. Fujimori has said rogue military intelligence officers were behind the killings, but prosecutors say he gave the order.
Supo testified that some members of the death squad were dismayed that they had killed the boy and wanted to leave the group, but Martin said quitting was not an option.
"Nobody leaves the group alive," he quoted Martin as telling the group.
Prosecutors say the existence of the Colina death squad shows the government went too far in trying to stamp out leftists and often killed innocent people by mistake during Fujimori's rule from 1990 to 2000.
In the case of Barrios Altos, intelligence officers received a bad tip and went to the wrong barbecue. Supo said they gained entry by pretending to be part of a band that had come to play music.
Once inside, they opened fire but instead of killing leftist rebels, they murdered local residents and their friends, some of whom sold ice cream from street carts for a living, according to a Peruvian commission that investigated crimes during the dirty war.