The cases of abuse, ill treatment, torture and alleged homicides committed against Argentines conscripts by their officers, some of them still on active service, during the 1982 Malvinas war were declared prescribed.
The case was started in 2007 following on the decision from former combatants to speak up and reveal the treatment granted by officers to many Argentine soldiers when they were stationed in the Falklands following the April 2 invasion.
The case was taken up by the Human Rights Secretary from the north east province of Corrientes and later other former soldiers joined the cause revealing repeated abuses and the staking to the ground as an extended form of punishment by the Argentine military officers.
Last month the Comodoro Rivadavia Federal Chamber in line with what was ruled in 2009 by a higher Criminal Court which established that the alleged Malvinas crimes can’t not be described as “crimes against humanity”, decreed that the case “Pierre, Pedro Valentin, number 1777/07” had prescribed.
In November 2009 the Comodoro Rivadavia Criminal Cassation Court ruled that tortures suffered by soldiers are not crimes against humanity and therefore liable to prescribe with time and threw out the case.
In line with this ruling the three members of the Comodoro Rivadavia Federal Chamber last month stamped prescription on the case, although two alternate magistrates who sat for the ruling pointed out they consider these crimes as ‘against humanity’ and thus do not prescribe.
Solicitors for two former Army officers accused in the case as alleged perpetrators of these abuses formally requested the prescription of the demand.
The mother case of all the abuses suffered by former conscripts is a collection of testimonies of the starvation and humiliation situation they were exposed to as well as the brutal punishments imposed by officers while they were stationed (April/June 1982) in the Falklands.
“We’d find a sheep, a cow, whatever and we would kill it to feed from it. How we cooked it, when we could, or eating semi-raw was the way to avoid the starvation situation”, says one of the testimonies which was reproduced in the “Enlightened by fire” Malvinas war film with actor Gaston Pauls.
According to Argentine federal prosecutor Marcelo Rapport “when soldiers were discovered by their officers, they were staked to the ground, tied by ankles and wrists, no matter the freezing weather, snow and lack of food. This went on for hours, sometimes days with no kind of aid plus the risk of enemy artillery fire”
The case also includes claims of “homicide as a consequence of the starvation condition to which many conscripts were exposed”.
The main case is being considered at the federal court of Rio Grande, Tierra del Fuego, which opened the way for a first sentencing of two former Army officers involved in the staking of a soldier but on Argentine territory, at the III Brigade of Curuzú Cuatiá, province of Corrientes, before the conscript was flown to combat in Malvinas.
The Comodoro Rivadavia court prescription ruling will be appealed.