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ARGENTINA | 19-09-2023 16:34

ESMA trial: Court confirms life sentences for Jorge ‘Tigre’ Acosta and 39 others

Federal Criminal Cassation Chamber dismissed appeals by 40 individuals convicted of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life in jail.

Argentina’s Federal Criminal Cassation Chamber has declared inadmissible 29 extraordinary federal writs lodged by the defence lawyers for more than 40 defendants convicted of crimes against humanity.

Among those who saw their challenge to life terms rejected are former naval officer Jorge ‘Tigre’ Acosta, one of Argentina’s most notorious human rights violators. 

The country’s top criminal court knocked back the extraordinary defence writs in the mega-case known as ‘ESMA Unificada’ in which they were convicted for illegal detentions, torture, homicides, abductions and sexual abuses committed at the ex-ESMA Navy Mechanics School that was converted into a clandestine concentration camp during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship.

The Sala II courtroom of the Federal Criminal Cassation Chamber is under judges Guillermo J. Yacobucci, Angela Ledesma and Alejandro Slokar.

The court’s ruling means that life sentences will also be served by Alejandro D’Agostino, a pilot of some of the infamous “death flights.” The accused flew the Skyvan aircraft that carried the victims known as the Santa Cruz (Holy Cross) church group, which included the French nuns Alice Domon and Léonie Duquet, to their death in December 1977.

Regarding Víctor Olivera and Jorge Luis Magnacco who had been convicted for new crimes at the cassation court level, another courtroom of the Cassation Chamber will have to intervene to review this new sentence due to the Supreme Court’s “Duarte” ruling.

In his minority decision judge Slokar moved to concede the writs of prosecutor Raúl Pleé and the plaintiffs against last May’s Sala II ruling (without his intervention), which, among other points, had confirmed the acquittals of the other pilots Emir Sisul Hess, Rubén Ricardo Ormello and Julio Alberto Poch.

In accepting the prosecution writs, Slokar maintained that “not only did the impugned resolution turn out to be a definite sentence but the challenges invoked a concurrent question of a federal nature (Rulings: 320:2841) and the arbitrary nature of the criticised pronouncement (Rulings: 299:17; 308:1557; 328:1874 and 329:5323).”



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