[Marxism] FWD: Missing "Dirty War" witness found in Argentina

Bill Quimby wquimby at ecr.net
Sat Dec 30 10:42:32 MST 2006

Via NY Transfer News Collective  *  All the News that Doesn't Fit

Reuters via Yahoo - Dec 30, 2006

Missing "Dirty War" witness found in Argentina

By Fiona Ortiz

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - A man who was kidnapped after testifying he was
tortured by a former policeman linked to Argentina's military dictatorship
was found alive on Friday, his family said, two days after his
disappearance sparked a nationwide manhunt.

Luis Gerez, a 51-year-old construction worker, was the second "Dirty War"
witness to disappear in recent months.

His discovery came shortly after President Nestor Kirchner went on national
television and accused former state agents of seeking to intimidate
judicial investigators and witnesses involved in human rights cases probing
the military's rule from 1976 to 1983.

Leon Arslanian, Buenos Aires province's security minister, told reporters
Gerez had been kidnapped and his body was marked with cigarette burns and
bruises. A police patrol found Gerez walking shirtless in a rural area of a
Buenos Aires suburb, he said.

Earlier on Friday, government officials offered a $130,000 reward for
information on Gerez's whereabouts. Several thousand people, many clutching
pictures of Gerez, marched near his home, demanding his safe return.

Gerez disappeared 100 days after Jorge Julio Lopez, another construction
worker, whose testimony was vital in the conviction of a former police
commissioner in a landmark human rights trial earlier this year. Lopez is
still missing.

Kirchner, speaking before Gerez was found, suggested the two men had been
kidnapped and said the disappearances were the work of "paramilitary and
police elements."

"All of Argentine society is hurt by this mafioso action by people looking
to guarantee their impunity," he said.

Kirchner, a center-left leader who was held briefly by the military when he
was a college student, has injected new political will into rights issues
since coming to power in 2003.


Argentina's Supreme Court repealed amnesty laws last year, clearing the way
for hundreds of rights cases to be reopened in the courts.

According to government reports, more than 11,000 people disappeared during
the dirty war, the military's crackdown on leftists and dissidents. Human
rights groups put the death toll as high as 30,000.

Gerez and Lopez are both from populous Buenos Aires province, which rings
the capital. They both testified against high-level figures of the
notoriously violent and corrupt provincial police.

In a congressional investigation, Gerez testified earlier this year that
when he was 17 in 1972, when Argentina was ruled by a military government,
he was tortured by Luis Patti, who later became a high-ranking officer in
the force.

He also testified that Patti kidnapped leftists during the dirty war.

Due to the testimony, Patti, who was elected to Congress in 2005, was
barred from taking his seat.

After he disappeared, Gerez's children said his car had been vandalized and
an unknown man recently threatened him at a bus stop, telling him specific
details about his family.

Gerez had last been seen leaving a friend's house on Wednesday evening.

(Additional reporting by Kevin Gray, Jorge Otaola, Lucas Bergman and Damian

Copyright ) 2006 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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