21 December 2007

Prison For Coupsters

Year-end 2007 is proving a bad time for Latin America’s former dictators with former soldiers in Uruguay facing prison prospects, and those in Argentina condemned to long prison terms.
Uruguay: The former commander of the Uruguayan army, Gregorio lvarez, president from 1981 to 1985 of the military junta that governed with an iron fist since the coup of 1973 has been sent to prison at the age of 82 to be tried for participating in the clandestine transfer and forced disappearance of at least 21 people between 1977 and 1978.

Judge Luis Charles gave this order… about the capture of Uruguayan political dissidents who had sought refuge in Argentina and who, after being detained with the support of the military government of the neighbouring country, were illegally transported in secret to Uruguay within Operation Condor.

In November 2006, judge Roberto Timbal ordered the detention and starting the trial against another huge emblem of the Uruguayan dictatorship. Juan María Bordaberry, who was elected constitutional President in 1971 but headed the coup of 27 June 1973 that dissolved Parliament and imposed the military regime that lasted for the next 12 years. The former ruler is now under house arrest. “For years, those responsible for the dictatorship tried to evade the legal route,” Zelmar Michelini, son of a legislator assassinated in Buenos Aires during the years of the persecution, told a local radio station. He has come to the conclusion, “Justice takes time but it comes”.

Argentina: Seven former commanders of the Argentine army and a former policeman have been condemned to prison for between 20 and 25 years in the first trial against soldiers for crimes perpetrated in the last dictatorship after the amnesty laws were annulled in 2003. Among those sentenced for the kidnapping and disappearance of some 20 members of the guerrilla movement, Montoneros… is the former army chief Cristino Nicolaides, sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Since annulling the (amnesty) laws, promulgated in the Eighties, only two former policemen had been tried and convicted, among them a priest, for crimes carried out during the last military regime. Thanks to those laws more than a thousand uniformed men and women were freed of their possible responsibility in crimes committed during the dictatorship. Parliament repealed them in 2003 and two years later (these) were also annulled by the Supreme Court.

Santiago Hoya, one of those sentenced to 25 years in prison, has died of heart attack at the age of 83 in a military hospital, according to El Clarín.

La Jornada, Mexico Dec 18, 2007 Link:
El País, Spain Dec 19, 2007 Link:
El Claín, Chile, Dec 22, 2007 Link:


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