Friday, 7 December 2012

Argentina: ESMA megatrial begins

The next massive trial of alleged human rights abusers began recently in Argentina. The trial - which is expected to last two years - is the first to focus on the death flights and encompasses a huge 789 victims. There are so many people involved that journalists have to watch the trial by videolink. Make no mistake, this is a big event, both in scale and significance. However, the very length of the trial means that it won't sustain the same level of attention throughout. The usual dedicated human rights groups will be following the entire thing, of course.

The opening of the trial received broad international coverage. British daily The Independent provides background for readers, introducing names familar to regular visitors of this blog, such as Alfredo Astiz and Jorge Acosta. It also quotes one pilot, Emir Sisul Hess, who reportedly told relatives how sleeping victims "fell like little ants" from the aircraft.

Victims of 'death flights': Drugged, dumped by aircraft – but not forgotten (Independent)

IPS notes that among the defendants, five are on the run. It reports that human rights activist Mario Villani has welcomed the start of the trial while stressing that “the struggle will continue as long as there are regimes in the world that need to use torture to maintain control.”

Argentina’s Biggest Human Rights Trial Begins (IPS)

The BBC notes that human rights lawyer Rodolfo Yanzon told the Associated Press: "This was, is and will be the largest trial of crimes against humanity."

Largest trial of 'Dirty War' crimes starts in Argentina (BBC)

German weekly Die Zeit also reports on the start of the trial:

Massenprozess gegen Mitglieder der argentinischen Militärjunta (Die Zeit)

Naturally, the megacausa has received blanket coverage within Argentina. La Nación, for example, focused on the defendants in this article about the opening of the trial:

Comenzó el tercer juicio por los crímenes en la ESMA (La Nación)

 Elsewhere, Spanish daily El País picks up on the urgency of trying the defendants now, because both they and the surviving relatives and victims are now so old; many have already died. The paper also talks to Ana Maria Careaga, who having been detained and tortured at the tender age of 16 is still only in her early '50s and well able to keep on fighting.

"Se están muriendo los sobrevivientes, los familiares de las víctimas, los represores" (El País)

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