Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 22:39:47 -0600 (CST)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Rich Winkel)
Subject: LATIN AMERICA: The End of Military Impunity?
/** 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
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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