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LATIN AMERICA | 13-03-2019 11:26

Uruguay President Vázquez removes commander of the Army

General Guido Manini Ríos dismissed after accusing Uruguayan courts of unfairly handling cases relating to human rights abuses carried out by military officers during country's 1973-1985 dictatorship.

Uruguay's President Tabaré Vázquez has removed the commander of the Army from his position, after the military officer questioned how local courts have handled cases involving members of the military accused of carrying out dictatorship-era human rights abuses.

The decision to dismiss General Guido Manini Ríos was announced in a statement by the Presidency.

The statement, which quoted the former commander, said Manini Ríos had told Vázquez that courts had deviated from the principles of the law, not granting due process to some of those accused of crimes against humanity committed during the 1973-1985 dictatorship. Manini Ríos also said that some were sentenced without proof or with forged evidence.

Soldiers are often "considered guilty before even being tried" by the Judiciary, Manini Ríos alleged.

The Presidency said he was removed because the decisions of the Judiciary must be respected and the "attitude taken by the commander of the Army, of censuring the judicial power as he has done, is completely incompatible with the role that he had been carrying out."

More than 40 members of the military have been investigated after being accused of human rights crimes.

Some of the ageing ones have died in prison. General Gregorio Conrado Álvarez, the last leader of Uruguay's dictatorship, died in 2016 at age 91 while serving a sentence for human rights abuses.

Hundreds were arrested and tortured during the dictatorship, and an estimated 192 people were forcibly disappeared.

Vázquez previously sanctioned Manini Ríos in 2018, handing him a 30-day suspension after he publicly outlined his opposition to a reform of the military pension system.

- TIMES/AP/AFP

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