The Federal Court of Appeals of Comodoro Rivadavia Thursday upheld in a 2-1 vote the arraignment of former Argentine officers Eduardo Gassino, Belisario Affranchino Rumi, Gustavo Calderini and Miguel Ángel Garde for “imposition of torments” on soldiers under their command during the 1982 armed conflict with the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands.
This type of offence is considered a “crime against humanity” which means there is no statute of limitations for the defendants, who shall remain incarcerated pending trial.
The new ruling upheld what in February 2020 had been decided by the Federal Court of Río Grande in Tierra del Fuego.
In a 20-page ruling, the Comodoro Rivadavia court also understood there was a “lack of merit” to substantiate charges against Belisario Affranchino Rumi.
Justices Javier Leal de Ibarra and Aldo Suárez voted in favour of the prosecution while their colleague Hebe Corchuelo de Huberman understood the charges were to be declared void given the passage of time.
In any case, the concurring magistrates found that the conduct under investigation was not about isolated or random events, but rather presumably formed part of an attack, deployed by superiority against subordinate personnel, which at least would have enjoyed the acquiescence of the State.
They also interpreted that the suffering imposed on the troops, “consisting of the unjustified deprivation of food [and] the application of illegitimate and degrading sanctions, was a common practise carried out by ... commanders over the most common soldiers.
On the other hand, Judge Corchuelo de Huberman maintained that although the investigated conducts could have seriously threatened individual legal rights, it is not sufficient to be conceptualized as crimes against humanity.”
She said that “no matter how aberrant the actions that presumably have been carried out may be, the requirements of systematicity or generality of the attack are not accredited, as elements that would elevate the crimes allegedly committed to the most serious category of crimes against humanity.”
The defendants are charged with 18 acts of torture applied to soldiers who complained about the lack of food or, directly, sought to obtain it by their own means.