A federal prosecutor has requested that a court in Santa Cruz province order the arrest of 26 former Armed Forces officers who are accused of committing torture during the 1983 Malvinas/ Falkland Islands conflict with Great Britain.
The men are alleged to have tortured and mistreated Argentine soldiers, many of whom were conscripts. Over 120 former soldiers have given testimony in the ongoing investigation into allege abuse on the Islands.
At least 95 former officials — the soldiers’ former superiors — are singled out as suspects.
“They beat us with rifles and punched us in the mouth and stomach, or they made holes in the ice and forced us to get into the freezing water”, one former soldier testified.
“When they tied us to stakes, they did it so we were looking up, as if we were crucified”, the same soldier said. The criminal complaints were made in 2007 but, as is often the case in Argentina — even in criminal cases — the investigation has long been stalled.
Prosecutor Marcelo Rapoport and the Human Rights Crime Unit of the National Prosecutor’s Office claim the accused “ordered and carried out diverse acts of torture, among them, “tying (soldiers) to stakes and (temporarily) burying” them in order to “control” undisciplined soldiers.
There are 22 specific cases of torture in the complaint, most of whose alleged perpetrators belonged to the socalled Yapeyú unit Infantry Regiment No. 5 of the Infantry Brigade.
Among them are corporals, non-commissioned officers, 2nd lieutenants, lieutenants and sergeants.
The prosecution insists that the judiciary must act because “of the Argentine state’s international obligation to investigate these crimes” which it considers “crimes against humanity and, for this reason, are covered by international legal norms which outline a lack of statue of limitations”.
The case falls under the watch of Judge Federico Calvete.
Argentina went to war with Great Britain on April 2, 1982. The 10-week war was the sad culmination of the bloodiest of Argentina’s six dictatorships during the last century, with then-dictator Leopoldo Galtieri riled up nationalistic sentiment to send the country to war.
Argentina lost 649 soldiers during the conflict, while 255 British soldiers were killed. The war was counterproductive in Argentina’s attempts to reassert its sovereignty over the Islands.
Prior to the war, the country enjoyed stable relations with the local population and dozens of Argentines, including teachers, lived and worked there.