Argentina: charges in death of ex-officer linked to “dity war” case

On Jan. 4 Argentine federal judge Sandra Arroyo charged two coast guard officers, Angel Volpi and Ruben Iglesias, with homicide in connection with the death of former navy officer Hector Febres. Febres, who was 66, was found dead on Dec. 11 in the Naval Prefecture in Buenos Aires, two days before he was to be sentenced for participation in torture and other crimes, including the theft of babies from dissident women during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship. Febres’ wife, Stella Maris Guevara, and their children, Hector and Sonia Febres, were charged with concealment.

Febres apparently died of a heart attack, but traces of cyanide were found in his body, leading to the homicide charges. An unnamed source in the court system said there were suspicions that Febres had been about to make revelations about the theft of babies and that this led to his death. Human rights organizations estimate that during the dictatorship the military arranged the adoption of about 500 babies born of mothers in detention or taken forcibly from their parents, who were disappeared. Only 88 of the children have been traced and returned to their families.

Febres’ death adds to suspicions that there is an effort stop the prosecution of military officers and police agents for crimes they committed under the dictatorship; the prosecutions started with former president Nestor Kirchner (2003-2007) and are continuing under his successor and wife, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. A key witness to the crimes, Jorge Julio Lopez, disappeared in September 2006. (La Jornada, Mexico, Jan. 5 from AFP, DPA, Reuters)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Jan. 6

See our last post on Argentina.