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Imprisoned MRTA leader admits failure of guerilla activities.

TOKYO, April 21 Kyodo

The guerilla activities of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, a Peruvian rebel group, were unsuccessful, the imprisoned leader of the group told Kyodo News by Saturday, about 10 years after its involvement in the 1996 hostage crisis at the Japanese ambassador's residence in the South American country.

Victor Polay Campos said the leftist group, also known as the MRTA, will renounce armed struggle.

''We suffered a defeat in our guerilla struggle,'' Polay said in handwritten letters, sent from a prison near the Peruvian capital of Lima through his lawyer. ''The MRTA will stop all armed struggle.''

MRTA guerrillas attacked the ambassador's residence Dec. 17, 1996, during a party to celebrate the Japanese emperor's birthday on Dec. 23, holding more than 600 people hostage and calling for the release of Polay, who has been in prison since 1992.

The letters were received prior to the 10th anniversary of the end of the four-month hostage crisis on Sunday.

The crisis ended on April 22, 1997 after special army troops stormed the residence and saved 71 people. One Peruvian hostage, two soldiers and all 14 MRTA hostage-takers were killed during the operation.

Polay, also the founder of the MRTA, said the group's power weakened rapidly after the end of the crisis.

He also criticized former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, alleging that he had intended to kill all the MRTA members in the residence by deceiving the group, although it and the government were at that time still having negotiations via a mediator.

The leader expressed mourning for all the people killed in the MRTA's armed struggle, but he did not have words of apology to the former hostages in the 1996 incident.

Polay said he now believes that social changes can be brought about through elections, pointing out that leftwing governments, supported by the poor, have been established in Central and South American countries.

''There are conditions favorable to carry out democratic reform,'' he said.

Polay formed the pro-Cuban guerilla group in around 1983. He was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1992.

After the Fujimori government collapsed in 2000, his sentence was reduced to 32 years in a retrial.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Apr 23, 2007
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