Argentine dictatorship’s murderer Astiz convicted

This video from Democracy Now! in the USA includes Bone Fragments Discovered at Argentine Torture Site.

From Italian news agency ANSA:

Desaparecidos ringleader condemned

‘Angel of Death’ Alfredo Astiz ran death flights, court says

Rome, March 18 – Italy’s supreme court on Wednesday found an Argentinian ex-navy officer responsible for all the death flights during Argentina’s so-called Dirty War in the 1970s and ’80s.

Upholding a life sentence for former captain Alfredo Astiz for the murders of three Italians, the Cassation Court noted that the so-called ‘Blond Angel’ or ‘Angel of Death’ had told a former prisoner that ”rivers give back corpses but killer whales eat bodies”.

Astiz also confided in Maria Alicia Milia that the death flights were used to ease overcrowding at the infamous Navy School of Mechanics (ESMA) barracks and were reserved for the estimated 20% of the suspected leftist opponents of the regime deemed ”irredeemable”.

In April 2008 a Rome appeals court upheld guilty sentences for Astiz and three other Argentinian ex-navy officers in the murders of the three Italians who ‘disappeared’.

The four ex-officers, who contested the legitimacy of the proceedings, were tried in absentia.

Three of them – Astiz, Jorge Eduardo Acosta and Alfredo Ignacio Antonio Vanek – are being held in Argentina for similar offences while the fourth, Jorge Raul Vildoza, is a fugitive.

A fifth former officer, Hector Antonio Febres, was also convicted at the original trial in 2007 but has since died of poisoning in his Argentine cell.

The defendants were convicted of torturing and murdering three Italo-Argentinians during Argentina’s military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983.

Angela Maria Aieta, the Calabrian mother of a Peronist MP, was seized by the Argentinian military in April 1977.

Businessman Giovanni Pecoraro was seized together with his daughter Susanna in June 1977.

The three were all taken to a torture centre in downtown Buenos Aires and never heard of again.

The appeals court last April also confirmed a preliminary determination of compensation of 150,000 euros for the victims’ relatives.

Italy has repeatedly asked for the four to be extradited.

A sixth defendant, former admiral Emilio Eduardo Massera, was scratched from the list because of health problems. He may be tried separately.

The six men are alleged to have been part of a group which helped run ESMA, a military academy which was turned into a torture centre.

Rome prosecutor Francesco Caporale based part of his case against the ex-officers on testimony provided by ESMA detainees who escaped death.

The court found that thousands of people held at ESMA were drugged and dumped alive into the ocean from military transport planes.

During Argentina’s ‘Dirty War’ against suspected leftist opponents, as many as 30,000 people were killed, including an estimated 500 Italians who joined the ranks of the desaparecidos, the ‘disappeared’ or ‘missing ones’.


Families of the Italian-born victims have been campaigning for years for the cases to be brought before the Italian courts.

Caporale took up the case of the three disappeared Italians in the wake of the 2000 convictions in absentia of seven Argentinian military and police officials accused of abducting and murdering eight Italian nationals.

Former general Carlos Guillermo Suarez Mason, one of the most notorious officers of the military dictatorship who died in 2005 while being held in solitary confinement, was handed a life sentence together with another ex-general, Omar Santiago Riveros.

The five other defendants, who included police chief Juan Carlos Girardi, were sentenced to 24 years.

In a related case that grabbed headlines here at Christmas 2007, a Uruguayan ex-navy intelligence officer accused of murdering four Italian citizens was found to have been living in Salerno for years undisturbed.

A year later Italy refused an extradition request for the man, Nestor Jorge Fernandez Troccoli, on the grounds that he was an Italian citizen.

Troccoli was one of 140 people named in arrest warrants issued by Rome prosecutors investigating the deaths of 25 Italian citizens in a decades-old cross-border operation aimed at hunting down leftists.

The others are former government chiefs and military and intelligence officers in seven South American countries including Argentina.

Rome prosecutor Giancarlo Capaldo has asked the Italian justice ministry to forward extradition requests to the countries whose military regimes sent teams to kill fugitive dissidents.

The Brazilian justice ministry has said it was unlikely to grant such requests.

The other countries concerned – Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru – did not respond.

Capaldo started his probe in December 1998 on the basis of suits filed by the relatives of the Italians who ‘disappeared’ during Operation Condor, which ran from 1975 to the mid 1980s.

8 thoughts on “Argentine dictatorship’s murderer Astiz convicted

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  5. Class struggles exist in churches

    Saturday 16 February 2013

    Revelations that the Argentinian Roman Catholic hierarchy was complicit in the murder of two priests during the time of the fascist regime, provide a clear refutation of Jim Dymond’s (M Star February 9) rather sterile and static view of the church as a monolithic reactionary force throughout history.

    This awful case is just one of many examples of the powerful in the churches aligning themselves with secular oppressors.

    It demands that we recognise that the church comprises not just the cardinals, the bishops and the ministers but all of the pilgrim people of God.

    Class conflict has constantly been played out in the churches and reform movements abound, with liberation theology being one of the most enduring in recent decades.

    Liberation theology is based on the belief that individual and collective salvation and political and economic liberation are indivisible.

    To fail to recognise the progressive movements in the churches is naive and defeatist.

    As Fidel Castro said: “I believe that it is possible for Christians to be Marxists … and to work together with Marxist communists to transform the world.

    “The important thing is that in both cases they be honest revolutionaries who want to end the exploitation of man by man.”

    Paul Simon



  6. Pingback: Argentine dictatorship’s secrets discoveries | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  7. Pingback: Augusto Boal, Brazilian theatre director, dies | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  8. Pingback: Argentine dictatorship torture general sentenced | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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