Monday, 25 April 2011

Argentina: Witness disappears, reappears

Last week, an important witness in an ongoing trial was kidnapped in Argentina. Víctor Martínez was a witness to the death of Bishop Carlos Horacio Ponce de León in a supposed car accident in 1977. Martínez disappeared on Monday and was found on Wednesday in a confused state, having apparently been drugged. According to his lawyer,
"He was taken by people we don't know. From what he was able to tell his wife, he was kept in a room. They didn't use force on him. He was told what to say. They gave him drugs, anti-anxiety pills, to keep him semiconscious."
This case is obviously concerning; I think there can be little doubt that Martínez was taken both as an attempt to disrupt this specific case and also as a threat to other witnesses, but it is heartening to see that the government acted swiftly, demanding his release and ordering security forces to search for him. This may have provoked his release. In another notorious case of recent years, the victim has not been so fortunate.

Argentine witness to bishop's killing freed by kidnappers (NY Times)
Argentine Dirty War witness kidnapped and released (NY Times)

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