Argentina: seven ex-officers arrested

On Dec. 18 Argentine judge Ariel Lijo gave seven former military officers and one former police agent prison sentences of 20-25 years in connection with the disappearance of some 20 members of the rebel Montonero organization in 1980. This was the first time since 2003 that former officers received prison sentences for crimes committed during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship; the Due Obedience and Final Point laws had shielded officers from prosecution until they were annulled in 2003. In 1980 a group of Montoneros, who had originally been allied to the left wing of the Justicialist Party (PJ, Peronist), tried to return to Argentina to fight the dictatorship but were captured by the military. Most remain disappeared, although the shot-up bodies of some have been found.

Judge Lijo sentenced former army head Cristino Nicolaides to 25 years in prison for illegal deprivation of liberty, torture and reduction to servitude. Six other high-ranking officers were sentenced for the same crimes: Jorge Luis Arias Duval and Santiago Hoya to 25 years, Juan Carlos Gualco and Waldo Roldan to 23 years, Carlos Fontana to 21 years and Pascual Guerrieri to 20 years. Former police agent Julio Simon was sentenced to 23 years. (El Diario-La Prensa, NY, Dec. 19 from EFE)

The 83-year-old Santiago Hoya died on Dec. 21 in the Buenos Aires Military Hospital; military sources said he suffered a heart attack, but Judge Lijo ordered an autopsy to determine the cause of death. On Dec. 10 former navy officer Hector Febres died of a heart attack in the Naval Prefecture while awaiting a verdict on charges of repression. The heart attack had been provoked by cyanide poisoning, and Febres’ wife and two children were detained, along with two officers of the Prefecture. (ED-LP, Dec. 22 from EFE)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Dec. 23

See our last post on Argentina.