BUENOS AIRES – Julio Cesar Strassera, who prosecuted the leaders of Argentina’s 1976-1983 military regime, died Friday after a long illness, his family said. He was 81.
Strassera spent the last two weeks at the San Camilo clinic in Buenos Aires for treatment of chronic respiratory problems.
He gained international recognition in 1985 during the trial of nine senior military officers who presided over the “dirty war” against the Argentine left, which involved the murder of as many as 30,000 people and the torture of tens of thousands more.
“Your honors, I want to use a phrase that does not belong to me, because it belongs to all Argentine people,” Strassera said in his closing statement. “Your honors, ‘Never again.’”
Five of the nine defendants were convicted and two of them, Gen. Jorge Videla and Adm. Emilio Massera, received life sentences.
Strassera left the prosecutor’s office after the trial.
In 1986, the first post-junta president, Raul Alfonsin, appointed Strassera as Argentina’s representative to the U.N. Human Rights Commission.
But the former prosecutor resigned that post in 1990 to protest then-President Carlos Menem’s decision to pardon the junta leaders.
Strassera devoted the rest of his life to practicing and teaching law, while remaining an active member of Argentina’s Permanent Assembly for Human Rights.