Thursday, 13 August 2009

Argentina: Life for Santiago Omar Riveros

An Argentine torturer and former head of the Campo de Mayo clandestine detention centre, Santiago Omar Riveros, has been sentenced to life imprisonment for his part in the death of Floreal Avellaneda in 1976.

Avellaneda was just 14 when he and his mother were abducted by an army taskforce which was actually looking for his father, a trade union activist. Both mother and son were tortured; his body washed up on the Uruguayan coast a month later (by which time, he would have been 15), while she was eventually released.

Riveros must spend his sentence in a common jail, his application to serve it under house arrest having been refused. The court decided that the simple fact that he was over 70 did not automatically entitle him to house arrest. Five of his former subordinates also received jail sentences of between eight and twenty-five years.

As is customary on such occasions, Riveros maintained a defiant attitude - former military torturers seem to share a strength of conviction which persists through the decades. "I am a democrat. We are not Nazis, we are not dictators, we are builders of democracy", he declared. He added that the armed forces had been waging war against Communism and that he had just been following orders. He also rejected the authority of the court and said that his "natural judges" were his family and the Supreme Court of the Armed Forces. Avellaneda's father, by contrast, reiterated the systematic nature of the abuses committed by the military.

Riveros is also awaiting a further trial in the autumn.

Life imprisonment to repressor Omar Riveros for crimes against humanity
Perpetua para el represor Riveros por el crimen de un chico en Campo de Mayo (Clarin)
"Fueron crimenes sistematicos y a gran escala" (Pagina/12)
Represor Riveros: perpetua y carcel comun por el crimen de un joven (Critica Digital)
'Dirty war' general found guilty (BBC)

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