Guilty - Argentina dirty war commanders

07 November 2011 by By Mariana Rodriguez Pareja & Salvador Herencia Carrasco

A historic ruling convicting 16 people accused of crimes against humanity was handed down by a Federal Court in Buenos Aires on October 26. They were convicted of arbitrary detention, torture and unlawful killing, committed at the Naval Mechanical School (ESMA) during the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983.

The 16 included former naval officers that used the ESMA as a clandestine detention and torture facility. Twelve were sentenced to life imprisonment; two to 25 years; one to 20 and one to 18 years in prison. Two of the accused were acquitted but will remain under arrest pending other cases. One of the persons convicted is Alfredo Astiz, also known as the Argentine “Angel of Death”.

The trial lasted almost two years and covered 86 separate crimes. It included testimony from more than 150 witnesses, including 80 survivors. Although the verdict was given in October, the entire ruling will only be published in December.

This is the first case that addresses the gross human rights violations perpetrated in the ESMA centre and it is expected that another trial will take place in 2012 over other human rights violations allegedly committed in this detention facility.

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