Saturday, 20 March 2010

Argentina: Judge's Father Accused

"I told you, Colonel, some day society was going to recognise everything you did for society in the '70s."
"They gave you life."

Yesterday, a judge ordered the detention of retired colonel Luis Sarmiento for crimes against humanity. But the order didn't last long - a few hours later he had to retract it upon discovering that the former military man is far too ill to ever stand trial.

Sarmiento was accused of responsibility in illegal deprivations of liberty and torture in the province of Misiones during the dictatorship, when he was apparently known as "el mago de la picana" or "el rey de la picana" ("king of the cattle prod", picana referring to the electric torture device).

When officials turned up at his apartment to arrest him, they found an octogenarian in a wheelchair, in the advanced stages of Parkinson's disease and apparently unable to recognise even his family members. This sounds like a genuinely sick man rather than one of the prevaricators we've read about previously (of course, the chance has been missed, the dictatorship's been over for thirty years).

The case is particularly prominent because Sarmiento's daughter María José is herself a judge and has recently been overruled a decree by President Kirchner. For this reason, she suspects those seeking to prosecute her father of political motivation.

El padre de la jueza Sarmiento esta acusado por delitos de lesa humanidad
(Critica Digital)
Tres decados sin rendir cuentas (Pagina/12)
El represor no podra declarar (Linea Capital)

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