BUENOS AIRES – A former commander of the Argentine army was arrested on Friday in connection with a kidnapping that took place under the country’s 1976-1983 military regime.
Retired Gen. Cesar Milani, who led the army from 2013-2015, is also being investigated for embezzlement and for other crimes linked to the junta’s “dirty war” against dissidents.
Federal Judge Daniel Herrera Piedrabuena ordered Milani taken into custody at the conclusion of a hearing in the northern province of La Rioja where the erstwhile army chief was questioned about the case, court sources told EFE.
Herrera is investigating the 1977 abduction and torture of Pedro Olivera and the torture of Pedro’s son, Ramon.
Milani, then a junior officer, was serving in La Rioja in 1977.
“We are happy because we believe, somehow, that we are on the path to really having justice done. It is an auspicious thing that Milani was detained,” Ramon Olivera told Todo Noticias television.
Ramon Olivera first accused Milani in 1979, saying that the officer was part of a unit that vandalized the family’s home and illegally arrested Pedro Olivera, who was subsequently tortured.
Milani also abused him, Ramon said.
The top federal prosecutor in La Rioja, Virginia Miguel Carmona, said in comments to Radio con Vos that Milani is also suspected of having a role in another dirty-war abduction in the northern province.
“These are serious offenses, categorized as (crimes) against humanity,” the prosecutor said. “The judge ordered arrest to ensure that the defendant appears at trial.”
In June 2015, the administration of then-President Cristina Fernandez granted Milani’s request to retire early for what he described as “strictly personal reasons.”
Milani’s 18-month-long tenure as army commander was marked by criticism and demands for his resignation from opposition parties and human rights groups amid ongoing investigations of his involvement in the repressive activities of the military regime, which killed some 30,000 people.