Argentina: ex-agent gets 25 years

On Aug. 4, a federal court in Buenos Aires, Argentina, sentenced former federal police officer Julio Simon to 25 years of prison for the 1978 abduction and torture of Chilean citizen Jose Poblete Roa and his Argentine companion, Gertrudis Hlaczik, and the theft of the couple’s eight-month-old daughter, Claudia Victoria.

It was the first such sentence since Argentina’s Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that two amnesty laws passed in the 1980s were unconstitutional, clearing the way for trials over human rights abuses committed during the country’s 1976-1983 dictatorship.

In recent months, trials have gone forward in nearly 1,000 cases of crimes against humanity; some 211 people are detained in relation to these cases, according to official figures. Simon, whose nickname was “Turco Julian,” is himself facing charges in 200 other cases involving abduction and torture.

Poblete, Hlaczik and their daughter were abducted in November 1978; the couple was last seen at the clandestine detention center known as El Olimpo. Claudia Victoria was given to an army lieutenant colonel; her true identity was uncovered years later by the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo. (El Nuevo Herald, Miami, Aug. 5, 6, both from AP; La Jornada, Mexico, Aug. 5)

On Aug. 2 in Buenos Aires, federal judge Daniel Rafecas declared unconstitutional the pardons granted by ex-president Carlos Saul Menem to four Uruguayan former military officers charged in 60 cases of abduction and torture under Operation Condor, a collaborative effort between South American military regimes in the 1970s and 1980s. The judge will now ask Uruguay to extradite several of the accused. The four Uruguayan officers were based at the Automotores Orletti clandestine detention center in Buenos Aires during the dictatorship. Two of them, Jorge Silveira and Jose Nino Gavazzo, are already detained in Uruguay for the abduction and disappearance of Maria Claudia Garcia de Gelman and the theft of her daughter born in captivity in Montevideo in 1976. (LJ, Aug. 3)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Aug. 6

See our last post on the Argentina.