Peru frees ballerina who hid Shining Path leader



A ballerina who provided refuge for the leader of Peru's Shining Path guerrillas has been released from jail after serving a 25 year sentence for terrorism offenses.

Maritza Garrido Lecca, now 52, sped off from the gates of the Ancon II prison outside Lima late Monday in a car driven by a relative, declining to speak to waiting journalists.

For several months in 1992, she harbored Abimael Guzman and several other leaders of his Shining Path movement in her Lima dance academy.

Anti-terrorist police captured the group in a raid in September that year after tailing Garrido Lecca for months on suspicion of hiding Guzman, whose Maoist-inspired group used terrorism, sabotage and selected assassinations in a bloody 20-year campaign to topple the government.

Peruvians were shocked to learn that children attended dance classes on the ground floor, while Guzman and the Shining Path leadership lived and plotted on the floor above.

Her release has caused intense debate in Peru over society's attitude to those convicted of terrorism in the country.

Raised in a well-to-do Catholic family, Garrido Lecca is believed to have been introduced to the Shining Path movement by her aunt, a former nun.

In prison, she has given dance workshops to fellow inmates, but few believe she has repented.

"I cannot know if she is repentant, but in her public statements she has never shown a spirit of repentance or apology for atrocities," Peruvian congressman Marco Miyashiro, a retired police general and one of her captors, told AFP.

In an interview she gave a few years after being captured, she said she had "no regrets".

A truth commission report said the 1980-2000 civil conflict left 69,000 people dead.

Guzman is serving a life sentence. His capture signalled the beginning of the end for the Shining Path's campaign. Charter on Moderation