Two months have passed since the disappearance of Santiago Maldonado and the questions keep piling up.
International pressure continues to increase too: this week, the united nations (un) called on the argentine state to investigate the Gendarmerie’s “responsibilities” in the case and the inter-american commission on Human rights (iacHr) announced it had summoned representatives of the government and the family of the 28-year-old artisan to a hearing in Montevideo that will take place on october 26, four days after the midterm elections.
Representatives for the argentine State will have to explain to the iacHr the progress made in the case so far. on august 23, the iacHr issued a precautionary measure about Maldonado, asking why the investigation into the disappearance of the young man had failed to make headway. Earlier this week, the Southern cone representative for the united nations High commissioner for Human rights, Amerigo Incalcaterra, expressed concern about the lack of progress in the investigation into the disappearance of Santiago Maldonado.
“It is urgent to clarify the participation of Gendarmerie in the events, and if demonstrated, to establish its responsibilities and to punish duly both the perpetrators and their superiors,” he said.
Incalcaterra has been one of those pushing for the creation of an international panel to probe Maldonado’s disappearance. Within the government of Mauricio Macri, Justice Minister Germán Garavano was one of the driving forces behind this initiative. it is believe the government’s Human rights Secretary claudio avruj opposed the move. the initiative did not prosper despite the efforts of the un official.
The 28-year-old’s disapperance is being probed via two separate judicial lines. Judge Gustavo Lleral, recently appointed to the caseafter the departure of his colleague Guido otranto, is in charge of determining the whereabouts of Maldonado. Prosecutor Silvina Ávila, meanwhile, has been delegated the investigation into the alleged forced disappearance of the young man.
Lleral, who charge of the case last week, has sent positive signals to the family and human rights organisations that act as plaintiffs in the case.
On Wednesday, he spent two hours with members of the Mapuche indigenous community, at the area where Maldonado disappeared on august 1 after the Gendarmerie violently clashed with the indigenous activists. the magistrate interviewed the leaders of the community and collected two new depositions. a day earlier, he had met Sergio Maldonado, Santiago’s older brother, who welcomed the new approach.
“The change of judge brought us relief,” he said.
Last Sunday, the Maldonado family led a major mobilisation in the Plaza de Mayo, two months after the disappearance of Santiago.
Sergio Maldonado was critical of prosecutor avila at the event, with whom he has also met. according to press reports, the prosecutor is investigating the suspicious moments of a van from the esquel Gendarmerie’s fleet.
After weeks of silence, Security Minister Patricia Bullrich said she had “some ideas” of what might have happened to the artisan this week.
“The truth will come out,” she promised after making a fierce defence of the Gendarmerie, one of the security forces that is under her control.
uring his appearance before the Lower House, cabinet chief Marcos Peña said the government was proud of the role played by security forces , echoing the minister’s line. Maldonado’s family, meanwhile, continues to demand Bullrich’s resignation.