Sunday, 11 October 2009

Argentina: 'Julian the Turk'

Many thanks to The Argentine Post for drawing my attention to this fascinating video from Al Jazeera in which a Uruguayan journalist interviews the man who tortured him in Argentina. It's a longer clip than I would usually recommend, but it's really worth watching, even if it does give you more of an insight into the motivation of the interviewer than the interviewee (English and Spanish with English subtitles, click on the screen to go to a larger version).

In the video, Julian the Turk/Turco Julián - real name Julio Simón - veers between denying he ever tortured and justifying what he did. He also attempts to present himself as the good guy, trying to get people free or 'go soft' on them in interrogation.

In fact, this was not the first time I had heard of the torturer. He is one of the very few perpetrators to have spoken out in the media albeit, as we see in this clip, in a highly inconsistent and prevaricating fashion. He appears in Marguerite Feitlowitz's A Lexicon of Terror, where he is quoted as saying,
"What I did I did for my Fatherland, my faith, and my religion. Of course I would do it again." (p.212)
Mario Villani, a survivor of the clandestine detention centres, recalls a figure who on the one hand spent his own money on toilet paper for the prisoners, and on the other was a vicious torturer who displayed particularly pronounced hatred towards Jews. Simón was identified in fifty-eight specific cases of torture following the dictatorship, but was protected under the amnesty laws, free to pass his former victims in the street (Feitlowitz 85-86). Following the repeal of the laws, he was the first member of the military to be convicted of torture during the 'dirty war'.

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