Federal Prosecution Office in Peru opened a formal investigation this month into the case of at least eight women who were allegedly captured and tortured following rumors that they performed witchcraft in Chillia, an Andean village of 12,000 inhabitants, 700 kilometers away from the capital Lima.
The case came to light after a viral video on social media showed women being hung upside down by the feet, stripped naked, and whipped by the so-called ronderos, a typical Andean peasant patrol that during the 1990s protected small towns and villages from the violent Marxist guerrilla group Shining Path.
Peruvian President Pedro Castillo was allegedly once part of this militia — he had not commented on the recent episode as of today.
Under torture, the victims were forced to confess witchcraft acts. According to Peruvian prosecutors, local citizens believed “spells” were responsible for cases of illness happening in the town. Despite the violence involved, the leader of the ronderos in the region, Pablo Haro, admitted that the group had captured the women, saying that they confessed and promised to leave the city.
The women captured in Chillia were released and will give their testimonies. Cases involving witchery accusations are not new in Peru: in 2016, a woman accused of being a witch was burned alive in a Peruvian Amazon indigenous community.