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ARGENTINA | 04-10-2019 12:56

Chaco sees convictions for crimes against humanity against civilians

Former federal prosecutor Roberto Domingo Mazzoni and former penitentiary warden Pablo César Casco sentenced to 11 years imprisonment for crimes against humanity by a court in provincial capital of Resistencia.

Former federal prosecutor Roberto Domingo Mazzoni and former penitentiary warden Pablo César Casco have become Chaco Province’s first civilians to be convicted for crimes against humanity committed during Argentina’s brutal 1976-1983 military dictatorship. 

Both men were sentenced to 11 years imprisonment by the Tribunal Oral Federal Penal court in the provincial capital of Resistencia on Wednesday.

Diego Vigay of the Unit of Human Rights Prosecutors highlighted that it was the first conviction of civilians in the entire northeastern region, in a case also indicting former federal judge Luis Ángel Córdoba, who died on August 7, 2017.

Former federal prosecutor Carlos Flores Leyes was also set to be prosecuted, but he passed away before oral proceedings began on July 4.

Judges Juan Manuel Iglesias, Selva Angélica and Eduardo Ariel Belforte convicted Mazzoni for not investigating two denunciations of real crimes as a federal prosecutor at the time, as well as for malfeasance and applying illegal pressures.

The judges took into account the suffering of victims Mirta Clara y María Gregoria Pérez, not only sentencing the former prosecutor to an 11-year  prison term, but also banning him from public office for life. However, Mazzoni was acquitted of charges denounced by the former political prisoners Aníbal Ponti, Eugenio Silva y Hugo Barúa.

According to Pagina 12, Mazzoni is the 12th former member of Judiciary to be convicted of crimes against humanity committed under the last military dictatorship.

Casco, a former prison warden at the U7 penetentiary, was found criminally responsible for torture inflicted on prisoner Hugo Dedieu with the crime aggravated by being motivated by political persecution. He was likewise sentenced to 11 years in prison and banned for public office from life, although he too was acquitted of other charges in the case pressed by former political prisoner Carlos Aranda.

The court heard that Casco regularly beat Dedieu and repeatedly punished him without pretext, forcing him to spend long stretches in a “punishment ward” where detainees were kept naked, without full food rations or a mattress.

Prosecutors described Casco as an “obsessively cruel torturer” who “always had excuses to hit or punish detainees.” 

“The prison service regime had the objective of morally and physically breaking the detainees and Casco was responsible for implementing the actions in that regard,” the judges said in their verdict, local outlets reported.

The court defined the offences as “crimes against humanity” and will read out the grounds for the verdict on October 16. 

This was the sixth trial for crimes against humanity and state terrorism in Chaco. 

The plaintiffs had requested prison sentences of 18 and 20 years for Mazzoni and Casco respectively and the prosecution 16 and 19 years.

– TIMES/TÉLAM

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