Minutes after Argentine President Nestor Kirchner ended a national address saying he will not be blackmailed by paramilitary groups that allegedly have kidnapped clue witnesses in human rights trials, one of them appeared safe and sound.
Luis Angel Gerez, 51, vanished three days ago in what seemed a repeat of a similar case three months ago with another witness who remains unaccounted for. Jorge Julio Lopez, is another construction worker, whose testimony was key in the conviction of a former police commissioner in a landmark human rights trial earlier this year. Lopez is still missing. "They found him alive" said in tears the wife of Luis Angel Gerez who testified against a former police officer, notorious for his "rigorous" questioning methods and who had become a relatively successful politician, but was expelled from Congress when the extent of his involvement in human rights abuses became public. At 21:00 hours Friday in Buenos Aires President Kirchner read an eight minute message blaming "paramilitary and parapolice" elements for the disappearance of Gerez and before him Jorge Julio Lopez. This has been the second time in three months that President Kirchner has been forced to implicitly admit government security forces had been unable to solve the witnesses' cases. Kirchner said that under no circumstances will an amnesty bill be passed by Congress and recalled protests by people related to past military regimes, "they are trying to push us to accept a veil of forgetfulness to achieve an apparent national reconciliation". They are trying to scare away witnesses claimed Kirchner but "let it be known that this president will not endorse any amnesty bill". "Recent history is evidence that any concession is ominous and ends with any advance in the struggle for human rights", he underlined in indirect reference to previous democratic governments that passed amnesty bills. Kirchner also asked more celerity from the courts and insisted all repressors and torturers should be locked up with ordinary criminals and felons.