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Still No Justice for David De Vinatea

Monday, September 3, 2001 | Tag Cloud Tags:

LIMA,PERU (ANS) -- "We're praying for the liberation of my husband," Chely Heredia de Vinatea told a Christian leader who visited her husband David, an evangelical imprisoned six years for narco-trafficking crimes he did not commit. "Maybe the Lord has us praying for the liberation of a country."

She made the statement about five months ago, when Peru's disgraced spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos fled the country. Soon after, then-President Alberto Fujimori fled to Japan, where he faxed home his resignation. Many, including Mrs. de Vinatea, thought that the departure of these two from the helm of Peru's government meant the departure of the invisible hand that had kept her husband in jail since his arrest in November 1995. But at this point, even the presidential election scheduled for April 8 brings little hope.

"Nothing has changed," she said. "The authorities don't concern themselves with his case. The guilty ones, meanwhile, are leaving (prison). Everything is the same.

"Everybody comes and goes, except David."

Evangelical legal observers have noted that irregularities riddle the state's case against de Vinatea, a decorated army colonel who gained a reputation for honesty and corruption-fighting during his career in Peru's army. It was hoped that the transitional government headed by interim president Valentín Paniagua marked a new beginning last November for Peru, an Andean nation beset by years of guerrilla insurgency and political corruption.

So in December, de Vinatea's wife and his lawyer began writing and phoning the new president and minister of justice, pleading for them to examine de Vinatea's case. To date, neither has responded to her calls or letters.

The years that the case has dragged on without resolution have taken an emotional toll on the family. "The anguish is terrible," Mrs. de Vinatea said of the runaround that has marked the case since its inception almost six years ago. "(Officials) tell you, 'Come back tomorrow,' and then the next day when you come back they tell you, 'Come back tomorrow,' or 'Come back next week.' This is the way it is every day."

An added complication is that the state is currently more focused on those wrongly accused of terrorism, and less concerned with those convicted of narco-trafficking.

"Nobody wants terrorism to return, but the accused terrorists are getting new trials and more pardons, and for those falsely accused of drug crimes, there's nothing," Mrs. de Vinatea said. "Nobody wants to bother with his case."

Meanwhile, David de Vinatea remains in Lima's Lurigancho Prison, which is now in the world's spotlight because of a trial underway there for accused American terrorist Lori Berenson.

April 2 was a bittersweet day for the imprisoned colonel as his cellmate, Roberto, also a Christian, completed his 12-year sentence and was released.

"He shared his life three years with David. He was close with him," Mrs. de Vinatea said. "Now David will remain alone. There just aren't trustworthy people in the prison" for de Vinatea to fellowship with, she said.

Despite their grief, the family's faith remains unshaken. "We're waiting on the Lord," she said.

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Worthy Christian News » Christian » Still No Justice for David De Vinatea