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ECONOMY | 14-11-2019 13:18

Supreme Court confirms Etchecolatz will serve out sentence in jail

Nation's highest court dismisses request filed by ex-police chief convicted of crimes against humanity requesting home arrest. Chief Justice Carlos Rosenkrantz dissents from colleagues on decision.

Argentina's highest court has rejected a request from one of the country's most notorious dictatorship-era criminals, Miguel Etchecolatz, asking that he be allowed to serve out the rest of his prison sentence at home.

The Supreme Court rejected as “inadmissible” a request from the 90-year-old's legal team that he be allowed to serve out his sentence under house arrest, exhausting the human rights violator's options.

Etchecolatz, who was the Buenos Aires provincial police service's second-in-command during the brutal 1976-83 military dictatorship, has been convicted of numerous crimes against humanity. 

Apart from Chief Justice Carlos Rosenkrantz, the decision made Tuesday was unanimous with justices Elena Highton de Nolasco, Juan Carlos Maqueda, Ricardo Lorenzetti and Horacio Rosatti all voting against Etchecolatz, who was appealing a 2-1 decision by the Federal Cassation Criminal Court to reverse a La Plata court resolution last year granting him house arrest.

The Cassation Criminal Court understood that "his state of health does not prevent him from being lodged in a penitentiary provided that he receives suitable medical attention and controls.”

Etchecolatz, the head of the Buenos Aires Province Detective Squad during the dictatorship, is considered a mass murderer after being found guilty of the "aggravated and premeditated homicide of two or more persons,” aside from numerous illegal arrests accompanied by torture, especially at a Lanús police precinct which also functioned as a clandestine detention centre known simply as Hell ("El Infierno").

During the 1976-1986 dictatorship, Etchecolatz responded to General Ramón Camps, head of Buenos Aires provincial police, who militarised the force and turned it into one of the country's slickest death machines. 

This was particularly the case in the student city of La Plata, the capital of Buenos Aires province, where thousands of university-aged militants, guerrillas and activists were tortured and disappeared. 

During his time as head of investigations for the provincial police, Etchecolatz is believed to have managed at least 21 concentration camps.

The various trials against him (which included the 2006 disappearance of a key witness Julio López just before he was due to testify, never to be seen again) have so far resulted in four life sentences for crimes against humanity, the most recent in October, 2018, with a total of 150 victims in two police stations between November, 1974 and October, 1978.

Like other human rights abusers, Etchecolatz was tried and jailed in 1985. However a series of presidential decrees let most free, until 2006 when the trials reopened.

The Supreme Court grounded its decision on Article 280 of the Civil and Commercial Procedural Code.

– TIMES/NA

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