Telmo Hurtado attends his trial at Castro Castro prison in Lima in January
Telmo Hurtado attends his trial at Castro Castro prison in Lima in January

Telmo Hurtado, on trial in Peru for ordering the killing of nearly 70 villagers in 1985, has admitted responsibility for the killings.

Ex-army officer Hurtado who is also known as 'The Butcher of the Andes' is accused of taking part in the "Accomarca Massacre" in August 1985 and commanding a patrol that killed 69 civilians, including 30 women and 23 children.

At the time, Peru's army was fighting Maoist guerrillas belonging to the Shining Path movement. The villagers were allegedly targeted by the army for their links to the guerrilla movement.

Speaking during the court hearing, Hurtado acknowledged his role in the massacre.

"There are things that one cannot cover with his thumb. Not even the silence of oneself. This the moment to consider and recognize what one has done," Reuters reported

Karim Ninaquispe, the lawyer for the victims' families said Hurtado's admission was long overdue.

"Of course, we knew it. We have waited 27 years for Hurtado to recognize that he was in charge of the massacre. However, at the same time we hoped for him to acknowledge how it was planned in the highest ranks of the military in Ayacucho. How the operation was executed as well as how the cover up was conducted," Reuters quoted Ninaquispe as saying.

"He has said that he met with Wilfredo Mori Orso (referring to Chief of the Political-Military Command for National Security Sub-Zone 5), and that there was an order to kill all those people because they were considered terrorists" she continued.

Local media reported a former soldier under Hurtado's commend had revealed details of the events, and said he had been ordered to prepare for the killings. Hurtado allegedly ordered soldiers to gather villagers in houses that were then set alight.

Hurtado was found guilty for giving the order by a Peruvian military court in the early 1990s and later granted Amnesty.

The law was subsequently nullified by Peru's Supreme Court and Hurtado fled to the US where he was arrested in 2007and extradited in 2011.