For dictatorship’s crimesSunday, June 1, 2014
Courts unveil executions
The sentences were celebrated by human rights activists and lawyers who take part in the 14 proceedings that are being held in different provinces for crimes committed during the state-terror era.
“We are glad that judges delivered six life prison sentences and decided to put an end to home detention for these repressors,” lawyer Bernardo Lobo Bugeau yesterday told the Herald. Lobo Bugeau along with his colleague Pablo Gargiulo represented Osvaldo De Benedetti’s relatives and the Human Rights Secretariat.
De Benedetti was a prominent leader of the Workers’s Revolutionary Party (PRT) and its armed organization, the People’s Revolutionary Army (PRT), which tried to liberate an area of Tucumán province during 1974 to spread rebellion throughout the province. That attempt was then suffocated by the Independence Operation, a military campaign ordered during María Estela Martínez de Perón’s constitutional presidency but that set the basis for the repression that the last dictatorship would unleash throughout the country, including clandestine detention centres and massive forced disappearances and executions.
De Benedetti was detained in September 1974 in Tucumán and taken to several prisons. In 1978, he was taken as a hostage to Córdoba province while late dictator Jorge Rafael Videla was visiting the place. During his time in that province, De Benedetti — in spite of being a legal prisoner — was taken to two clandestine detention centres, La Perla and La Ribera. There he was recognized by the Army as one of the militants who tried to take over a regiment in Catamarca in 1974. After that moment, De Benedetti was separated from the rest of his five comrades and his fear grew.
Libres del Sur leader Humberto Tumini, one of those prisoners, testified before court and remembered that De Benedetti thought that the military were going to execute him. That was what happened on July 21, 1978, though the military regime presented the execution as an escape attempt.
Luciano Benjamín Menéndez, the head of the Third Army Corps that commanded the repression in ten provinces, was separated from the case as he was facing two trials in Córdoba and La Rioja provinces.
“If he had been judged, Menéndez would have received the same penalty,” lawyer Lobo Bugeau said.
In Jujuy province, on Thursday, six repressors were sentenced for the executions of six PRT activists, who were detained in a prison located in the neighbourhood of Gorriti.
According to the Jujuy’s court, the crimes committed had to be considered as part of the genocide perpetrated in the country, whereas the Tucumán’s tribunal labelled De Benedetti’s murder as a crime against humanity.