Dirty war justice blocked in Brazil; exhumations in Uruguay

A Brazilian federal judge on March 16 blocked a move to try retired army colonel Sebastiao Curio Rodrigues de Moura AKA “Dr. Luchini” for abuses committed during the country’s military dictatorship. Prosecutors days earlier brought the charges over the abduction of five left-wing militants in the 1970s—the first criminal charges brought for abuses under the dictatorship. But Judge Joao Matos in Marabá ruled that the charges would violate Brazil‘s 1979 amnesty law. Matos said in his ruling: “To try after more than three decades to dodge the amnesty law and reopen the debate on crimes committed during the military dictatorship is a mistake.” Federal prosecutors can appeal the ruling. (BBC News, March 16)

Prosecutor Tiago Rabelo brought the charges in the Amazonian state of Pará, where a guerilla movement against the dictatorship was active in the Araguaia river valley in the late ’60s and early ’70s. The bodies of five guerillas who “disappeared” after being captured have never been found. The charges were brought after President Dilma Rousseff—herself a former guerrilla jailed and tortured under the dictatorship—in November endorsed the creation of a truth panel to investigate human rights abuses during the period. Brazil has acknowledged 400 abductions and presumed killings under the dictatorship. The amnesty law was upheld by the country’s supreme court in 2010. (AFP, Mach 13)

On March 31, hundreds of students staged an angry protest outside Rio de Janiero’s military club as retired senior officers marked 48 years since the coup d’etat that opened the period of military rule on that day in 1964. The demonstrators, including many relatives of victims of the 1964-1985 dictatorship, chanted “murderers,” “torturers” and “cowards, we are waiting for the truth.” They shouted insults at the elderly ex-officers as they emerged from their luncheon meeting, protected by a police cordon. (AFP, March 30)

Authorities in Uruguay on March 15 announced the discovery of at least one set of human bones at the BatallĂłn 14 army barracks outside Montevideo, believed to be the remains of a “disappeared” dissident. The remains of Julio Castro, a journalist who disappeared in 1977, were found at the same barracks last year. President Jose Mujica—like his Brazilian counterpart, and ex-guerilla who was imprisoned by the dictatorship—supports overturning Uruguay’s amnesty law. (La Republica, Lima, March 15; The Guardian, Oct. 22, 2011)

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