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Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 22:39:47 -0600 (CST)
From: rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: LATIN AMERICA: The End of Military Impunity?
Article: 48904
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.2885.19981201181640@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

/** ips.english: 526.0 **/
** Topic: LATIN AMERICA: The End of Impunity?/RELATE/ **
** Written 3:09 PM Nov 28, 1998 by newsdesk in cdp:ips.english **
Copyright 1998 InterPress Service, all rights reserved.
Worldwide distribution via the APC networks.

The End of Impunity?

By Daniel Gatti, IPS
25 November 1998

MONTEVIDEO, Nov 25 (IPS) - Britain's House of Lords' ruling means Chile's former dictator, Augusto Pinochet, could face trial, and also implies an end to impunity for dozens of military human rights violators in the Southern Cone of Latin America.

Pinochet, under arrest in London since October 16 on an international warrant issued by Spain, is wanted by courts throughout Europe to face charges of torture, murder and disappearances during the Chilean dictatorship (1973-1990).

The aging officer is now waiting for another British court to decide on whether to grant extradition requests lodged by Spain, France, Germany and Switzerland, or to send Pinochet back to Santiago for humanitarian reasons or on grounds of clemency.

The latter option is the current favourite of Chile's Eduardo Frei administration, while human rights organisations and left-wing parties both in Chile and the rest of Latin America support Pinochet facing trial in one of the States which wants him.

Charges raised by Judge Baltasar Garzon on disappearances and murders under the civil-military governments of Latin America's Southern Cone in the seventies and eighties list 38 offending Chilean officers beside Pinochet.

Summonses have also been issued on 154 members of the Argentine military - 22 of whom have Interpol warrants hanging over them - and seven Uruguayans.

The list of Argentine officers on Garzon's extradition list include Emilio Massera, former navy commander in chief and member of the 'junta' which defeated the Isabel Peron government on March 24, 1976.

Massera, who was cleared by amnesty laws brought in by the Raul Alfonsin government and President Carlos Menem's pardon, was arrested Tuesday to stand trial for the only crime not covered by those laws - the kidnapping and illegal handling of the children of the disappeared.

In 1985, before the amnesty applied to him, Massera had been found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment for murder, enforced disappearance and robbery.

The former navy commander this year followed in the footsteps of another member of the junta which overturned Argentina's civilian government in 1976; former president and former army chief, Jorge Videla, today under house arrest for kidnapping the children of the disappeared.

Massera is being sued by six mothers of women who were arrested while pregnant between 1977 and 1978. The pregnant women are known to have given birth during their detention in the Navy Mechanical School, one of the most important concentration camps of the Argentine military dictatorship.

Once they had given birth, the women disappeared and their children were given to members of the military who changed their names and "adopted" them.

The ruling by Britain's Law Lords and the arrests of Massera and Videla together deal a heavy blow to impunity for human rights violators in the Southern Cone of Latin America, said human rights organisations in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, Wednesday.

In Montevideo, Javier Miranda, member of the Association for Relatives of the Detained Disappeared, said he was pleased by the verdict against "the recognisedly murderous Augusto Pinochet."

"This goes in favour of our cause - to find out what happened to our disappeared relatives and get sentences passed on those responsible for these acts wherever possible. It confirms the need to stop impunity," he added.

Left-wing mayor of Montevideo, the Uruguayan capital, Mariano Arana, in turn said the British Lords' ruling against "the genocidal, butcher Pinochet" had pinned down one of the main leaders of "Operation Condor."

This military operation led to coordination between the repressive forces of the military dictatorships in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay in the seventies - an alliance which led to the murder, disappearance and detention in appalling conditions of a large number of government opponents.


Origin: Montevideo/LATIN AMERICA/

---- [c] 1998, InterPress Third World News Agency (IPS)
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