Thursday, 20 February 2014

Argentina: Trial of the judges

A high-profile human rights trial opened this week in Mendoza, Argentina. It is the "trial of the judges" (juicio a los jueces) of the last dictatorship and interesting because it focuses on complicity from outside the armed forces.

The around 40 defendants* include former judge Otilio Roque Romano, who was extradited from Chile last September, Luis Miret, Guillermo Petra, Rolando Carrizo and Gabriel Guzzo. They are accused of not having investigated reports of illegal detentions, disappearances and murders relating to over 200 people.

The images of the courtroom are quite striking (see both La Nación and Diario Uno, linked below), with the men in their 70s and 80s surrounding by uniformed guards. As the trial is forecast to last around two years, it seems likely that some of the accused will not survive to hear the sentence. The case is still symbolically important, but of course, like all the current human rights trials, it comes late and progress is slow.

At the initial hearing on Monday, Romano raised his handcuffed wrists as he left the courtroom, to competing cries of "hero" and "murderer" from his supporters and opponents in the visitors' section. Luis Miret was reprimanded by the presiding judges for photographing the public prosecutor.

Jueces de la última dictadura, en el banquillo en Mendoza (La Nación)
Al grito de "asesinos, asesinos" terminó la primera jornada del juicio histórico a los jueces (Diario Uno)

*Media reports vary from 39 to 41.

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