Monday, October 14, 2019
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ARGENTINA | 19-05-2019 18:48

Ex-Army boss César Milani: 'I have never tortured, kidnapped or killed in my life'

César Milani is accused of involvement in the kidnapping and torture of Pedro Olivera and his son Ramón, a plaintiff in the case, in March 1977.

Former Army Chief César Milani on Friday reiterated his denial of allegations that he committed human rights crimes during Argentina's 1976-1983 military dictatorship.

The trial is taking place in La Rioja province, where the alleged crimes took place.

Milani gave evidence dressed in full uniform on Thursday and Friday, amid dramatic scenes in court.

He is accused of involvement in the kidnapping and torture of Pedro Olivera (deceased) and his son Ramón, a plaintiff in the case, in March 1977. In a separate case, Milani faces allegations of participating in the kidnapping and disappearance of the soldier Alberto Ledo, whose family members were present in court on Thursday.

"I never tortured, killed nor kidnapped anybody in my life", Milani said Thursday.

He claimed the allegations against him were part of a conspiracy to damage former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who appointed him Army chief in 2013.

"If I had not accepted Cristina (Fernández de Kirchner)'s invitation, I would not be seated here", he claimed, blaming "political opportunism" for his legal woes.

Milani described the circumstances surrounding the alleged crimes as "impossible".

He also expressed his "solidarity with the Olivera family".

In a note of self-pity he said the suffering of the Olivera family “end where the sufferings of the Milani family begin.”

HEBE'S LETTER

During his testimony on Friday, Milani requested permission to read a letter from the Association fo Mothers of Plaza de Mayo leader Hebe de Bonafini.

Bonafini's support for Milani during the Fernández de Kirchner government drove a wedge through Argentina's iconic human rights movement.

"Dear César, thank you for your letter... I know that being locked up is not easy but when a man is free like you, there are no walls. A big hug, Hebe de Bonafini", the letter read.

The reading prompted dramatic outcries in court.

"I will leave the courtroom with the photo of my disappeared brother", the sister of Alfredo Ledo yelled, after the presiding judge ordered some members of the public to leave.

-TIMES/PERFIL

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