Sunday, December 31, 2017

Argentine ‘death flight’ pilots get life for 100s of junta opponents thrown into ocean

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It is a shame that this has not happened in Israel, a place where Count Folke Bernadotte’s murderer became Ariel Sharon’s driver and bodyguard

It is a pity that Argentina does not have the death penalty, or even better, executing convicted perpetrators in the manner they used with their victims. Then we would have the videos of the cringing perps in their last few moments before being thrown out of the plane into the ocean.
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Do the families feel better about the trauma they suffered? Not all, but I think most of them would. And they are owed that, and also some serious financial compensation.
The US was chummy with Argentina during this time, and was aware of this official murder capaign. It was still the Cold War days where all kinds of “illegal killings” went on. And this would include the US getting its hand wet.
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The perpetrators never feared they would stand accused one day

Someone who was offered heading up the Central American death squads as a promotion during those turbulent years. He quit on the spot, literally walking out of the meeting. He became an instant outcast, but later on morphed into a silent hero as the story became known within a small circle as someone who stood up for refusing an illegal order, or promotion in this case.
Unfortunately a certain US ambassador was offered and took the job. He went on to having a “successful” career, with this nasty part of his resume airbrushed out. 
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But for every one of these horror stories, there are many more that we don’t know. 
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Relatives of people who disappeared during the Argentine military dictatorship appeared at the sentencing in Buenos Aires on Wednesday. 
Javier Gonzalez Toledo/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

BUENOS AIRES — Judges overseeing Argentina’s most high-profile human rights trial sentenced 29 former officials to life in prison on Wednesday, in a case that documented the former military dictatorship’s widespread practice of killing civilians by throwing them from aircraft.
“This is a happy moment in the long fight for justice that has been going on for decades,” said Victor Basterra, 73, a former political prisoner held at the notorious naval base in Buenos Aires that was at the heart of the case. “It’s always satisfying to watch them get life sentences.”
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The verdict capped the most ambitious effort to date to hold former military leaders accountable for abuses committed during the 1970s and 1980s, when several Latin American countries were ruled by right-wing military juntas. Prosecutors tried 54 former Argentine officials in the deaths or forced disappearances of 789 people, and presented testimony from more than 800 witnesses.
The court acquitted six defendants, including a couple of pilots, and sentenced the rest to prison terms that ranged from eight to 25 years. As the four-hour sentencing hearing concluded, the defendants avoided looking at former political prisoners and relatives of those who were killed, who were standing in the back of the courtroom.
Some in the gallery held photographs of their loved ones. “Murderers, rapists,” victims yelled, tapping on a glass panel that separated them from the defendants. “You’re going to jail!” an older woman exclaimed triumphantly.We can bring back the dead, but we can give some justice to their families

Judges in Argentina have given life sentences to the former ‘death flights’ pilots after hundreds of people opposing the country’s 1976-83 military junta – including a close friend of Pope Francis – were thrown into the ocean.
A major ruling on Wednesday marked the “first” such Argentinian judgment against pilots involved in the notorious ‘death flights,’ local media reports. During the operations, opponents of Argentina’s military regime that ruled the country from 1976 until 1983 were thrown into the waters of the Atlantic.
According to the verdict, the announcement of which lasted almost four hours, 29 former service members were sentenced to life imprisonment, 19 were sentenced to eight to 25 years, and six were acquitted, local media report.
There are 54 defendants in the major trial. It also involves cases of 789 victims of a secret detention center – known as the Navy Mechanics Higher School (ESMA) – where up to 5,000 people opposing the repressive junta regime are believed to have been vanished.
The five-year trial – called the ‘mega cause’ in Argentina – exposed the chilling practices of systematic torture and the killing of thousands of people, including left-wing opponents of the regime and members of Argentina’s urban guerrilla groups, but also human rights activists and relatives of those forcibly disappeared by junta forces.

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Esther Careaga and the Pope

In a series of hearings, it emerged that numerous victims were drugged, loaded onto ‘death flight’ aircraft, and thrown into the freezing waters of the southern Atlantic Ocean.
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Among ESMA victims was Esther Careaga, a close friend of Jorge Bergoglio, who later became Pope Francis. She was thrown to her death from a plane one night in December 1977, along with two French nuns and nine others.
“Careaga was a good friend and a great woman,” Beroglio said when the body was identified in 2003. The future pontiff met Careaga, a biochemist and his boss at the time, when he worked as an apprentice at a pharmaceutical laboratory in Buenos Aires in the early 1950s.

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