BUENOS AIRES – Argentine and Italian human rights activists demanded on Friday that Latin American dictatorship-era repressors who have taken refuge in Italy in recent years be tried for crimes against humanity.
Among the serious crimes the activists highlighted at a press conference were disappearances carried out as part of Plan Condor, a joint operation that right-wing South American military regimes of the 1970s and 1980s conducted to eliminate leftist political opponents.
The press conference was held at the Buenos Aires headquarters of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a rights group established to find the children stolen and illegally adopted during Argentina’s “dirty war” against left-wing guerrillas and political dissidents in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
The attorney for the Rome-based non-governmental organization 24 marzo, Jorge Ithurburu, said Argentine courts had been unable to try several former Argentine ex-military officers facing homicide charges in their homeland; he specifically mentioned the case of Lt. Col. Carlos Luis Malatto, noting that Italian authorities had refused to extradite him.
An Italian court in January convicted and handed down life sentences against eight South American former political and military leaders who had been charged in the Plan Condor deaths of Italian citizens. Several of those defendants were already serving prison time in their homelands.
But they acquitted 19 former military officers from Bolivia, Chile, Peru and Uruguay in the trial, verdicts that family members of Plan Condor victims said were regrettable.
“I’m here to demand justice and demand that any person who has committed crimes against humanity be tried wherever that may be, preferably in his homeland,” said Vera Jarach, a member of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a human rights group created during Argentina’s 1976-1983 military dictatorship by women seeking to learn the whereabouts of their children who disappeared.
The press conference came amid a visit by several Italian human rights attorneys to Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay to raise awareness of the need to combat crimes against humanity.
Together, the Southern Cone military regimes of the 1970s and 1980s killed tens of thousands of people, while hundreds of thousands more were tortured or forced into exile.