_ On trial: Abimael Guzman. Known to his followers throughout the 1980s and early 1990s as President Gonzalo, Guzman preached a messianic vision of a classless Maoist utopia based on pure communism.
He inspired a cultish obedience from a guerrilla insurgency that grew to as many as 10,000 armed fighters and supporters before his capture in a Lima safehouse in September 1992.
_ Co-defendants: Eleven of Guzman's top commanders, including his longtime lover Elena Iparraguirre, No. 2 in the rebel organization, and Oscar Ramirez Durand, alias "Comrade Feliciano," who took command of the Shining Path following Guzman's arrest.
Ramirez Durand, who was captured in 1999, is now a sworn enemy of Guzman. He said recently in another trial that Guzman was "a farce, a despot and an alcoholic" who never wanted to take arms himself in the field "under the pretext of bad health."
Ramirez Durand said he hates Guzman most of all because he allowed himself to be wooed with special privileges into calling for peace talks in 1993 by Peru's now imprisoned ex-intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos.
_ Shining Path: Before Guzman's capture, The Shining Path followed the tactics of China's Mao Zedong in conducting a prolonged guerrilla campaign starting in the countryside and aiming to surround and strangle Peru's coastal cities. Rebels bombed electrical towers, bridges and factories, assassinated mayors and massacred villagers to cross what Guzman called the "river of blood."
Since Guzman's capture, the group has been reduced to a few hundred guerrillas who stage sporadic ambushes on security forces in Peru's coca-producing jungle regions and provide protection to cocaine traffickers.
_ Justice delayed: Peru's Constitutional Tribunal ruled in 2003 that the draconian secret military courts established by former President Alberto Fujimori in the 1990s were unconstitutional, and civilian prosecutors brought new charges against Guzman and other convicted rebels. But Shining Path members have mounted legal challenges to the new anti-terrorism laws and appealed for release, arguing their due process rights were violated because they have been imprisoned for years with no legally imposed sentence, AP reported.