Argentina’s Federal Penitentiary Service (SPF) is considering releasing up to 96 convicted human rights violators including the infamous former Navy officer Alfredo Astiz.
The news comes just days before the 42nd anniversary of the country's 1976 coup d’état which installed a brutal eight-year military dictatorship.
Already the news had sparked controversy because of the inclusion of Jorge “El Tigre” Acosta, Carlos Capdevilla, Antonio Pernías and Adolfo Donda, in the SPF’s list of 1,436 inmates considered eligible for house arrest or release.
The latest list was prepared on March 8 and places Astiz in a list of “cancer patients” alongside another 16 prisoners, seven of which are human rights violators, Infobae reported.
The decision is likely to stoke tensions at this Saturday’s March 24 commemorations and already a group of lawmakers has taken issue with the list. In fact, it pitted Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña against Renewal Front lawmaker Graciela Camaño and the former's recent presentation to Congress.
FERNANDEZ MEIJIDE: 'VENGEANCE'
Meanwhile, some within the historic human rights movement have called Astiz’s imprisonment close to “vengeance”.
“This character continues to prompt in me the same reaction he always has”, human rights leader and former politician Graciela Fernández Meijide said, referring to Astiz.
“But we would have failed in our fight to respect human rights if we do not believe that our worst enemy has rights, too”, she told La Red radio.
“At a certain age or with certain illnesses, keeping a person in prison stops being punishment and almost becomes vengeance”, she said.
THE ANGEL OF DEATH
Astiz is infamous for having infiltrated the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo in 1977 by pretending to be the brother of a disappeared one.
Having gained the trust of the Mothers and their collaborators, the then-Navy officer went about planning the kidnapping and murder of the group’s leadership: Azucena Villaflor, Mary Ponce de Bianco and Esther Ballestrino de Careaga.
In December 1977, a Navy deathsquad kidnapped the three Mothers alongside a group of young Maoists and the French nuns Alice Domon and Léonie Duquet.