Friday, 15 July 2011

Argentina: ex-military pay for their crimes

Ex-military chiefs punished by Argentinean court.
Source: South Journal, 15 July 2011.

Two ex-military officers were given life terms on Thursday for their crimes at an illegal prison known as “El Vesubio” where some 156 people were victimized during the last dictatorship that ruled Argentina.

The Buenos Aires Federal Court Four punished Hector Gamen (84) with life term; he is a retired brigadier general who was second commander of the Infantry Brigade during the dictatorship (1976-1983). Gamen was charged with 76 illegal imprisonments, torture and 16 homicides.

A similar sentence was given to Hugo Pascarelli (81), retired colonel and chief of the military wing of the “El Vesubio”. Pascarelli was processed under charges that included 15 illegal imprisonments of people, torture and two homicides.

These sentences coincided with the punishment demanded by the prosecution, the Argentinean Human Rights Secretariat, the Center of Legal and Social Studies, and two plaintiffs.

No punishment was imposed on Pedro Duran Saenz, ex-chief of the illegal prison, who was accused of 14 murders and 63 illegal imprisonments, because he died this year.

The court also sentenced Roberto Carlos Zeolitti to 18 prison years; Ricardo Martinez and Ramon Erlan to 20 and a half years; Diego Salvador 21 years and six months, and Jose Maidana to 22 years and sixth months. All these men were ex-penitentiary agents.

The “El Vesubio” illegal prison operated since august 1975, before the last dictatorship that began to rule the country in March 1976, and up to 1978. The jail was located in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, within the jurisdiction of the 1st Army Corps.

Some 2 500 people were taken to that prison, most of whom disappeared. The trial also addressed the disappearance of writer Haroldo Conti, writer Hector Oesterheld and movie maker Raymundo Gleyser.

The court heard the testimonies of 280 witnesses, 75 of whom are survivors of the El Vesubio. Some 30 000 people disappeared in Argentina during the last military dictatorship.