Argentina: suicide of ex-officer in “dirty war” case?

On Feb. 25 the body of retired Argentine military officer Lt. Col. Paul Alberto Navone was found by an employee of the Air Force’s Hotel Parque, in Ascochinga, a town some 55 kilometers north of Buenos Aires. He had been shot in the chest; a 9mm pistol and a suicide note were found near the body. Navone, who lived in Ascochinga, had been scheduled to appear that day before federal judge Myriam Galizzi in an investigation of the disappearance of twin babies born in Paraná, Entre Rios province, in 1978, during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship’s “dirty war” against suspected leftists. The parents were Raquel Negro and Tulio “Tucho” Valenzuela, a leader of the Montoneros rebel group. Claiming ill health, Navone had gotten his court appearance postponed to March 3.

The government has been investigating the kidnapping of some 600 babies during the dictatorship, generally the children of leftists who were disappeared by the military. Former navy officer Hector Febres was also expected to testify in the investigation when he died suddenly on Dec. 10. The cause of death was a heart attack, but there were traces of cyanide in his body, and two coast guard officers were charged with homicide. Estela de Carlotto, president of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, which has agitated for decades for clarification of the theft of the babies, said she would demand an investigation to see if Navone “was eliminated, as may have happened with Hector Febres.” (Clarin, Buenos Aires, Feb. 26; Pagina 12, Buenos Aires, March 2)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, March 16

See our last post on Argentina and the Dirty War.