Argentina dictatorship officers get life in prison

15th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

An Argentine court on Thursday sentenced two former army officers to life in prison for their role in abuses that took place at a notorious torture camp during the 1976-1983 military regime.

Former general Hector Gamen, 84, and ex-colonel Hugo Pascarelli, 81, were sentenced on a series abuse charges including kidnapping, torture and rape, for their roles at the infamous El Vesubio (Vesuvius) concentration camp.

The commander of El Vesubio, Army Colonel Pedro Duran Saenz, died in June while the trial was ongoing.

Some 2,500 prisoners went through the camp between 1976 and 1978, when the center, located in south-western Buenos Aires, was razed ahead of the arrival of a team from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

Personalities who went through the camp include author Haroldo Conti, graphic novelist Hector Oesterheld, film director Raimundo Gleyzer, German sociologist Elisabeth Kasemann, and French nationals Francoise Dauthier and Juan Soler.

Oesterheld's four adult daughters also went missing during the dictatorship years and are presumed dead.

Sebastian Soler's son, now 41, clearly remembers the day his father and mother were kidnapped.

"A group of men entered the house breaking windows and doors," he said.

"They dragged my mother out to the street by the hair. They left me and my two siblings, ages four and six, with a neighbor and the next day she took us to our grandmother. We never knew anything more about my parents."

The German government was a complainant in the case concerning Kasemann, the 30 year-old daughter of a university professor and Lutheran theologian. She was kidnapped in 1977 and eight weeks later her body was found riddled with bullets in an empty lot along with 15 other prisoners.

In the trial, which lasted a year and a half, the court proved that 156 crimes against humanity had taken place at El Vesubio, including 19 executions by firing squad.

Five former Vesubio prison guards were sentenced to between 18 and 22 years prison.

Some 30,000 people went missing during the military junta years, according to rights groups.

© 2011 AFP

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