A man seeking asylum in Britain has been arrested for crimes against humanity and torture, police confirmed today.
The 46-year-old Peruvian man was arrested in Devon on Wednesday on suspicion of involvement in state-backed death squads which targeted guerrilla movements, mainly the notorious Shining Path.
Officers from London’s anti-terrorist Met police swooped on an address in Tiverton, Devon, and arrested the man at 7am on Tuesday.
The man, who has not been named, was yesterday being quizzed at Exeter police station amid claims he was responsible for the torture and slaying of more than 100 people in his native Peru in the 1980s and 90s.
Police also searched a residential and business address in the quiet Devon town, where it is thought the suspect had been living since claiming asylum in Britain.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: ”A 46-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of torture and crimes against humanity and has been detained at Exeter police station to be interviewed.
”These matters relate to incidents which occurred in Peru between 1989 and 1993. From initial inquiries, this man may have participated in the murder of numerous individuals during that period.
”Searches are ongoing at a residential address and a business premises in Tiverton.”
The Peruvian man, who has not been named, was arrested on suspicion of involvement in state-backed death squads which targeted guerrilla movements, mainly the notorious Shining Path.
It is understood the number of alleged killings is more than 100.
A brutal civil conflict in Peru led to the death or disappearance of 70,000 people between 1980 and 2000.
Around half were estimated to be the responsibility of Shining Path and a third down to government security forces.
It is understood the police inquiry follows information passed on by the UKBA War Crimes Unit. It is believed the suspect had been granted asylum in the UK.
A lack of prosecutions and arrests, plus the apparent inability to take effective immigration action, has prompted concern the UK has become a safe haven for suspected war criminals.
Nick Donovan, from the Aegis Trust which led the campaign to change the law, said ”Before the recent change in UK law many of the dozens of British residents suspected of crimes against humanity couldn’t be prosecuted for crimes committed in the 1990s.
”It’s great to see the new law being used already. Obviously this man is innocent until proven guilty, but if this arrest leads to a successful prosecution it will be a great day for the families of the victims.
”All credit is due to the police for their pro-active stance towards suspected war criminals found in the UK.”