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Over 70 Argentine officers face trial for torturing conscripts in Malvinas

Wednesday, June 10th 2009 - 08:00 UTC
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A simulation of how some Argentine conscripts were treated by their officers. A simulation of how some Argentine conscripts were treated by their officers.

An Argentine federal judge considers the abuses allegedly suffered, --in over eighty cases-- by Malvinas war veterans during the 1982 Malvinas war as “crimes against humanity” and therefore “imprescriptible”, according to reports in the Buenos Aires press.

The “mega-demand” before Rio Grande, Tierra del Fuego, federal judge Lilian Herraez involves over 70 Argentine Army officers and petty officers who commanded troops in the Falkland Islands during the conflict, and is currently under appellation before the Comodoro Rivadavia Federal Chamber.

The Federal Chamber ruling will be decisive to continue or not with the investigations of the alleged abuses which include at least in one case, homicide (conscript apparently shot by a corporal); abandoning wounded, such is the case of another conscript left to die of hunger; wide spread torturing (i.e. staking to the ground); serious injuries and abuses and submission to serfdom.

The case of abuses during the Malvinas war was presented in Rio Grande, in April 2007, sponsored by the Human Rights Under Secretary from the northern province of Corrientes who convinced several veterans (mostly former conscripts) to come forward and tell their stories of abuses and torture suffered to the hands of their officers.

The word spread and testimonies from almost a hundred veterans were added to the case, not only from Corrientes, but from other provinces including one from Buenos Aires for the alleged anti-Semitism abuses received by a Jewish religion soldier.

Last February another federal judge from Comodoro Rivadavia, Eva Parcio de Selemme established a “historic” milestone when she accepted that staking a solider to the ground was a crime against humanity and a war crime. This happened in 1982, with a conscript, but in a military garrison somewhere in Patagonia, two days before the victim was flown to the Falkland Islands.

A month later Judge Herraez followed suit but referred to cases occurred in the Falklands between April 2 and June 14, rejecting a prescription request.

As has been argued by the prosecutor, “any inhuman act against one person can constitute a crime against humanity, if it was committed inside a system or executed according to a plan, or if committed repeatedly leaving no doubt about the intentions of the perpetrator”, said Herraez.

The cases involving crimes allegedly committed in the Falklands were presented at a federal court in Rio Grande because according to the Argentine constitution, Falklands-Malvinas administratively depend from the province of Tierra del Fuego, Antarctica and South Atlantic islands.

Categories: Politics, Argentina.

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