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The infamous five

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The Supreme Court’s ‘2x1’ ruling in the Luis Muiña case last week led to dozens of repressors convicted of crimes against humanity under the dictatorship to request their early release from prison. It is estimated that over 200 former military and police officers as well as civilians could have qualified, potentially reducing their sentences greatly. Here are a few of the most infamous repressors who asked for their freedom.

 

Christian Von Wernich

Christian Von Wernich was a military chaplain for the Buenos Aires provincial police during the last military dictatorship.

He was arrested in 2003 for his participation in crimes against humanity at the clandestine detention centres of Puesto Vasco, Cot I Martínez and Pozo de Quilmes. Prior to his detention, Von Wernich was in hiding in Chile under a different identity; he served in a parish in El Quisco using the name Christian González.

Von Wernich was eventually sentenced to life in prison on October 9, 2007 for participating in 34 kidnappings, 31 cases of torture and seven homicides. Several witnesses testified that he would give psychological support to the police and military officers who hesitated about practising torture, carrying out kidnappings and committing murder. Von Wernich is also know to have received money from the relatives of political prisoners, which the military chaplain claimed would be used to secure their freedom. Neither the money, nor the victims, were ever seen again.

 

Víctor Alejandro Gallo

Victor Alejandro Gallo is a former military officer who was part of the 601 Intelligence battalion, retiring with the rank of captain.

He was sentenced to a 25-year-jail sentence for having kidnapped and appropriated Francisco Madariaga Quintela, then a baby, from the “El Campito” clandestine detention centre in 1977 and was investigated in the Riveros case for other kidnappings and murders.

In 1997, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison after he was implicated in the so-called Benavídez massacre, which involved a triple murder of members of the same family. Although he wasn’t found guilty of the murder in that case, he was convicted for having participated in the armed robbery of the family.

Gallo was also charged in a separate case for having violently abused his wife before their separation. During the 1980s, the former military officer participated in the carapintada movement (a military group that rebelled and threatened to topple former President Raúl Alfonsín’s administration in the 1980s).

 

Luis Muiña

Luis Muiña is a repressor who was first granted use of the so-called ‘2x1’ benefit by the Supreme Court last week, allowing him to be released early from prison.

He was sentenced in 2011 to 13 years in prison for carrying out kidnappings and torture on victims from the Hospital Posada, where he was based as part of the paramilitary group known as SWAT. One of the most emblematic cases he was involved in concerns Jacobo Chester, an employee of the Hospitals statistics centre, who was kidnapped from his home by Muiña and others. Chester’s body was later found floating in the Port of Buenos Aires. Muiña also participated in the kidnappings and torture of Gladys Evarista Cuervo, Jorge Mario Roitman, Jacqueline Romano and Marta Elena Graiff. Evarista Cuervo testified how Muiña had participated in her torture; she suffered broken ribs, a broken sternum, and severe third-degree burns. Muiña was later convicted of kidnapping a public official and torture and indicted for the kidnapping of two doctors who worked at the Hospital Posada. However, in 2013 Federal Oral Criminal Court No.2 re-examined his arrest and detention, taking into account Article 7 of Law 24,390 (known as “2x1” which permitted him to be freed as of November, 2016. The Supreme Court confirmed the ruling last week.

 

Miguel Osvaldo Etchecolatz

Miguel Osvaldo Etchecolatz is a former deputy police chief of Buenos Aires province, who was responsible for administering 21 clandestine detention centres during the last dictatorship.

He has been issued four life prison sentences and has been convicted of having executed over 100 crimes against humanity. Etchecolatz was the right-hand of former general Ramón Camps, who was the chief of police for Buenos Aires province at that time.

Etchecolatz was held directly responsible for leading the infamous Noche de Lápices assault in a high school in La Plata, where 10 students were kidnapped and several murdered in 1976. In 2004, he was one of the first officials convicted and sentenced for kidnapping a baby from parents who had been forcibly disappeared.

In 2006, he was found guilty for the illegal arrest and torture of Jorge Julio López, Nilda Eloy and the murders of Ambrosio Francisco De Marco, Patricia Graciela Dell’Orto, Diana Teruggi de Mariani, and several other victims. Jorge Julio López was a key witness, who — after testifying in 2006 — went missing. During a hearing in 2014, Etchecolatz brought a paper with him with López’s name written on it. He made sure those present could see it.

 

Ramón Genaro Díaz Bessone

Ramón Díaz Bessone was an Army General commander of the Army Second Corps and served as federal planning minister during dictator Jorge Rafael Videla’s administration.

First prosecuted for crimes against humanity in Paraná in 1985, the case was dismissed due to the Full Stop law in 1988 and he was pardoned by former president Carlos Saúl Menem for his human rights crimes in 1989. But in 2005 he was indicted for crimes against humanity after the Supreme Court overthrew the pardon as unconstitutional.

On March 26, 2012 he was sentenced to life in prison for his role and involvement at the Information Services (SI) headquarters, the largest clandestine detention centre in Rosario, Santa Fe province. An estimated 2,000 people had been held there. He was convicted of murder, kidnapping, torture and illicit association against 93 victims, in the largest crimes against humanity case ever in the province. He was also indicted in the Area Paraná II case for crimes committed in Paraná, Entre Ríos province involving 20 more victims.

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