January 22, 2018

In La Rioja

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Ledo’s family members issue new request for Milani questioning

By Luciana Bertoia & Tomás Brockenshire
Herald staff
Relatives of Alberto Agapito Ledo requested a Tucumán prosecutor to summon Army chief César Milani to be questioned as a suspect for the forced disappearance of the 21-year-old conscript.

In their request, Ledo’s family provided a new intelligence document that targeted Ledo as a “person to be eliminated” by the dictatorship’s death squads.

“The case has not been moving forward,” Graciela Ledo, the conscript’s sister, yesterday told the Herald, explaining why they made the request in the 38th anniversary of her brother’s forced disappearance.

Ledo travelled from La Rioja, where she lives with her mother Marcela — an active member of Mothers of Plaza de Mayo — to take part in a public hearing held in Congress aimed at reigniting Ledo’s case, a month after the Tucumán Appeals Court ordered an investigation into the head of the Army for the forced disappearance that took place during the so-called Operation Independence in Tucumán while Ledo was finishing the mandatory military service.

A request

Lawyer María Elisa Reinoso explained to the Herald that the group yesterday filed a request before prosecutor Carlos Brito to summon Milani. Brito is currently collecting testimonies from witnesses. But Ledo’s relatives believe that there is enough evidence to question Milani as a suspect.

Ledo disappeared on June 17, 1976 and Milani — who was then a second lieutenant at the 141 Battalion in La Rioja — signed a document declaring him a deserter. Last year, the head of the Army said that he did not investigate the case before signing the resolution.

“Milani falsified that document,” notes the request filed by Reinoso.

Last year, Milani also said that he did not take part in the illegal repression in Tucumán, adding that the battalion he headed was transferred from La Rioja to Tucumán to build roads. However, former conscripts from La Rioja province reported having been forced to guard political prisoners.

Ledo’s relatives also provided a document from the Army’s Intelligence Division that claimed Ledo was taken to Tucumán to be forcibly disappeared by the dictatorship’s death squads. The document — dated August 30, 1976, weeks after Ledo’s disappearance — said that the 21-year-old history student was one of the leaders of the left-wing armed organization Revolutionary People’s Army (ERP in Spanish).

For Reinoso, it was clear that Milani knew about this document and a witness, Ángel Molina, said before the prosecutor that “there was a rumour that Ledo was going to be killed.”

Days after being appointed by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Milani travelled to La Rioja and Tucumán provinces to make himself available for questioning — but judges never summoned him.

In August of last year, Esteban Sanguinetti was indicted for Ledo’s forced disappearance.

Criticism and a new witness

Nora Cortiñas, a member of Mothers of Plaza de Mayo-Founding Line, and Nobel Prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel were present during yesterday’s public hearing and in addition to expressing their solidarity with Graciela Ledo and their condemnation of Milani, criticized other rights groups for failing to condemn Milani.

Cortiñas spoke of “divisions within the human rights community” and that some “are failing Memory,” in reference to Memory, Truth and Justice, an iconic slogan within the human rights movement.

Pérez Esquivel directed criticisms at those “who have thrown in the towel. We will never give up and will continue with the struggle.”

Madres de Plaza de Mayo leader Hebe de Bonafini has refused to criticize Milani and several human rights leaders present also criticized comments by Nilda Garré, current Argentine ambassador to the Organization of American States, in which she expressed doubt that Milani was guilty of any crimes.

During the hearing, Verónica Matta, a woman who was Ledo’s friend in La Rioja said that Milani reportedly took part in her abduction in July, 1976. The woman said that she did not know the name of the young officer but when Milani took centre stage last year she realized that he was the man who had participated in her abduction.

Other survivors have alleged Milani participated in kidnappings that took place in La Rioja but a prosecutor requested to dismiss those allegations last month.

@lucianabertoia, @tbrockenshire

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Edition No. 5055 - This publication is a property of NEFIR S.A. -RNPI Nº 5343955 - Issn 1852 - 9224 - Te. 4349-1500 - San Juan 141 , (C1063ACY) CABA - Director Perdiodístico: Ricardo Daloia