Argentina daily shocks with call to scrap ‘dirty war’ trials

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A newspaper in Argentina has sparked outrage by urging the incoming government to end trials of people accused of crimes against humanity during the 1976-1983 dictatorship’s “dirty war” on dissidents.

Argentina daily shocks with call to scrap ‘dirty war’ trials

Argentina daily shocks with call to scrap ‘dirty war’ trials

Buenos Aires (Argentina)

– 24 November 2015 15:54

– AFP (Alexandre PEYRILLE)

A newspaper in Argentina has sparked outrage by urging the incoming government to end trials of people accused of crimes against humanity during the 1976-1983 dictatorship’s “dirty war” on dissidents.

But president-to-be Mauricio Macri dismissed the call, issued Monday by the leading newspaper La Nacion, and vowed the trials would go on.

“I am committed to that,” he said.

Under the title, “No More Vengeance,” the conservative La Nacion editorial rejected any notion of justice in the trials, which since 2003 have put hundreds of soldiers, police and civilians behind bars — often for life — for their role in the “dirty war”.

Instead the paper, historically close to the military establishment, claimed the dictatorship in the 1970s had been fighting “terrorist groups” on par with the Islamist extremists behind this month’s Paris attacks.

Those targeted by the trials were victims of persecution and revenge by the outgoing government of President Cristina Kirchner and her husband and predecessor Nestor Kirchner and should be released, it said.

The arrival next month of the new government under Macri, whose election last weekend ended 12 years of leftist rule under the Kirchners, “is an opportune moment to finish with the lies about the 1970s,” La Nacion argued.

– Sensitive subject –

The military dictatorship that ruled Argentina four decades ago remains a very sensitive topic in the country.

Mothers and grandmothers of many thousands of people forcibly disappeared under the junta — or adopted when their militant parents were executed — still hold weekly demonstrations in Buenos Aires to demand light be shed on their kin’s fate.

After the end of the dictatorship, Argentina established a truth commission that led in 1985 to the trial of the juntas, convicting five top members of the military government.

But a year later, lawmakers approved amnesty laws effectively preventing further trials and in 1989 and 1990 then-president Carlos Menem pardoned the five imprisoned.

In 2003, Nestor Kirchner repealed the amnesty laws, allowing trials to resume. More than 500 people, many of them former security personnel, were convicted and imprisoned.

La Nacion employees in a statement have distanced themselves from the polemic text. They issued a photo showing journalists in the paper’s newsroom holding placards reading “I condemn the editorial.”

The head of the organization that brings mothers and grandmothers of the “disappeared” together in protest, Estela Carlotto, also expressed indignation.

“Those who commit crimes must pay,” she said. “There are dangerous people, people who express no regret, who do not admit what they did.”

Eduardo Anguita, a writer of books that have become references about Argentina’s dictatorship, said the trials must continue despite efforts to discredit them. They are “cited as an example and studied in many universities in the world,” he said.

An Argentine human rights activist who won the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, said the trials were irreversible.

“We are still awaiting many responses about the disappeared and about the children,” he said.

“Going before the law is a right that can be taken from no citizen. Unfortunately, there are those who are nostalgic. We will not permit a single step backwards.”

ap/rmb/dw

Tags : Trials, war, Dirty, Scrap, call, with, Shocks, Daily, argentina

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