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ARGENTINA | 25-07-2019 13:09

Trial of former Army chief César Milani resumes in La Rioja

César Milani, who served as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces during the government of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, stands accused of commiting crimes against humanity dating back to 1977.

The trial of general César Milani, who stands accused of committing crimes against humanity during the late 1970s, resumed Thursday in La Rioja after a judicial break. 

Milani , who served as commander-in-chief of the Army during the government of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, is accused of participating in an operation that led to the kidnap and torture of father and son dissidents Pedro and Ramón Olivera, in 1977. When his trial began in May Milani denied all charges, recorded as illegitimate deprivation of aggravated liberty, carrying out an illegal search, the "imposition of aggravated torture" and illicit association.

At the time of the alleged crimes, Milani – now 64 – was a young lieutenant.

The oral public hearing in the province deal swith crimes committed during Argentina’s last dictatorship. In the dock alongside Milani are 12 other defendants who are being tried for crimes including aggravated homicide, illegal trespass, deprivation of liberty and torture, according to the Judicial Information Center. 

The former Army chief is also accused of the forced disappearance of a soldier in 1976, for which he is facing a separate trial, due to begin in September.

"This is the first time since 2013 that I can explain the facts," had said Milani at the start of his trial in May, dressed in military uniform and wearing his badges, who warned that "no deputy chief of the La Rioja Army is [being] prosecuted or detained because of this."

After interrupting his statement when he became emotional, Milani then said he has "a deep respect for all the victims of the military government ... they have all my solidarity because I know today, as Argentine society knows, the disappeared, the tortures, the torment."

Milani said he wanted to offer his "solidarity to the Olivera family," adding that "their suffering ends where the suffering of the Milani family begins, which is unjustly and arbitrarily accused."

edro Olivera, who died in 1999, suffered a stroke while being tortured and survived, despite having been abandoned by his captors. 

Ramón Olivera, who was freed during the dictatorship, first denounced Milani in 1984 before the Provincial Human Rights Commission of La Rioja, though the case did not progress until he reconfirmed those statements before the courts in 2013.

The defence team for Milani is tentatively scheduled to present their case next week. 

- TIMES/TELAM/AFP

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