Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Argentina: Perpetrator News

One step forward and three back in the Argentine custodial system.

Ex-naval officer Randolfo Agusti Scacchi, who has been a wanted man since December, yesterday presented himself at court in Buenos Aires and was remanded in custody. He's wanted in connection with crimes at the ESMA during the military dictatorship.

Profugo en causa ESMA se entrego a la Justicia (Critica)

Oscar Meanwhile, three former police officers awaiting trial for human rights abuses were released. Pagina/12 appropriately headlines their article "More luck than Astiz", referring to another notorious human rights abuser who was to be set free until, in the face of protests, the government stepped in. The prisoners in question are Miguel Kearney, Rubén Páez and Jesús Bernabé Corrales. Here's a translation of the pertinent points of the news report:

Thirty years ago they commanded the Pozo de Arana and the Brigada de Investigaciones, two of the main clandestine detention centres in La Plata. The short arm of the law only reached them in May 2007, but they never set foot in jail. Because they were over seventy, they enjoyed house arrest. Nor were they held for too long, barely twenty months. On 22 December Court III of the Federal Chamber of Penal Cassation [which decides on annulments and releases], with the votes of Angela Ester Ledesma, Guillermo Tragant and Eduardo Rafael Riggi, decided that the men had never tried to escape justice, there was no reason to think that they might flee, and they were therefore granted the right to await their trial in freedom.


Miguel Kearney was head of the military post of Arana, where fragments of bones and a wall covered in bullet marks were found. More than two hundred prisoners passed through there, the majority of whom were disappeared. In 1986 the Federal Court in Buenos Aires ordered the detention of "Englishman" Kearney. This did not happen thanks to the Due Obedience [amnesty law]. [...] Rubén Oscar Páez and Jesús Bernabé Corrales were head and deputy of the Brigada, where they interrogated and distributed victims to other sites under [police chief] Ramón Camps.


The judge Arnaldo Carazza and the Court in La Plata refused the release of the perpetrators. The judges Ledesma, Tragant and Riggi maintained that despite the seriousness of the crimes and the long expected sentence, there was no danger of flight, the men had not obstructed the investigation, they are old with families and they have behaved well during house arrest.[...] In contrast to the case of cassation which ordered the end of the custody of Astix, Acosta, & co., the liberations of the police officers have not been appealed by the prosecutor and therefore already took place last week.

What mercy the Argentine justice system bestows on these poor old men; a lot more than they ever showed to their detainees, by all accounts. A lot of trials seemed to get held up at this stage of proceedings and, as we saw with the Astiz case, it's urgent that this does not occur. Dispiriting to think that even house arrest was 'too harsh' for people accused of participation in torture and murder.

Con mejor suerte que Astiz (Pagina/12)

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