Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Argentina: Devoto prison deaths to be reinvestigated?

Nearly a year ago, I blogged about the so-called "mattress riot" - motín de los colchones - which occurred at the Devoto prison in Buenos Aires in 1978 and led to the deaths of around 60 prisoners. Renewed interest in the case seems to have been provoked by a book written by lawyer Claudia Cesaroni.

Yesterday, federal prosecutor Federico Delgado called for the case, which has been shelved twice in the past, to be reopened. In recent months, he has heard 17 testimonies on the case, four of them from survivors. He points to the contrast between the "official history" of the prisoners' riot and the accounts of survivors. He also complains that previous investigations were biased. He also believes that some of the prisoners were shot, rather than having burnt to death as had been previously stated.

Delgado does not believe that any intervention of the State in a crime necessarily turns it into a crime against humanity, and in this case he does not see a clear link with the systematic repression of the State during the dictatorship. He will pass on the baton to federal judge Daniel Rafecas, who will have to provide the definitions. Cesaroni believes the incident did constitute a crime against humanity and she has been trying to demonstrate how the situation of "common" prisoners under the dictatorship mirrored the sufferings of the "political" prisoners.

Piden investigar lo que ocurrió en Devoto (Pagina/12)

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