Monday, May 23

Argentine justice condemns eight repressors of the dictatorship for crimes against humanity

Mosaic with people's faces in the former clandestine detention center of ESMA, in Buenos Aires.

Mosaic with people’s faces in the former clandestine detention center of ESMA, in Buenos Aires.

An Argentine court concluded with massive sentences the fourth trial on aberrations committed in the Navy Mechanics School (ESMA), one of the main clandestine detention and torture centers that operated during the last Argentine military dictatorship (1976-83). The verdict, which was announced in the framework of a virtual audience, included three life sentences, four to 15 years and the remainder, to six years.

ESMA is a permanent wound due to its “invisible” character in the eyes of most of society. The daily life of the inhabitants of the Núñez neighborhood bordered on that empire of horror. Nail 5,000 people They passed through the property that stands on Avenida del Libertador, with great traffic in the city of Buenos Aires, a few blocks from the main football stadium in the country, River Plate. Most are part of the list of thousands of missing For political reasons.

Today, ESMA is a cultural and memory center for the victims of state repression. The demand for justice governs their activities. The last of the four trials related to crimes against humanity perpetrated within it took two and a half years to complete. The Oral Court 5 found the eight members of the so-called guilty “Task Group 3.3.2“for crimes of illegal deprivation of liberty, torture, murder and abduction of children. Naval officer Carlos Mario Castellví, former Federal Police agent Raúl Armando Cabral, alias ‘Tiburon’, and former Army intelligence agent Miguel Conde, alias ‘Carames’, received the highest sanctions. Former Navy NCOs Ramón Roque Zanabria, José Luis Iturri, Jorge Luis María Ocaranza and Carlos Néstor Carrillo were sentenced to 15 years in common prison. The lowest sentence, six years imprisonment, was for former soldier Claudio Vallejos, the only one of the accused who faced the judicial process in freedom.

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Other trials

In December 2017, and under the right-wing government of Mauricio Macri, the same court handed down the sentences of what was then known as the case ESMA III. The former captains Alfredo Astiz and Jorge Acosta, two of the symbols of horror, were once again sentenced to life imprisonment, as was former officer Ricardo Cavallo, extradited from Spain, and other seafarers.

45 years after the bloodiest military coup in Argentine history, and 16 years after the annulment of impunity laws, 968 soldiers, police and civilians have been convicted of crimes against humanity. Still exist 562 open cases involving 3,315 repressors. One of the most resonant cases, that of the “death flights“that men and women who were detained in an Army unit known as Campo de Mayo, which is located on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, were thrown into the sea or the La Plata River, began processing at the end of 2020. The Federal Oral Court 2 It will try again the former commander of the Military Institutes Santiago Riveros, and three members of the Army Aviation Battalion 601. Campo de Mayo was, together with the ESMA, the most important illegal detention center in the country.

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