A former torturer of the dictatorship sentenced a 9th time to life imprisonment

BUENOS AIRES | One of the most emblematic torturers of the Argentine dictatorship (1976-1983), a former police chief, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the ninth time on Friday for several crimes against humanity.

A former torturer of the dictatorship sentenced a 9th time to life imprisonment

BUENOS AIRES | One of the most emblematic torturers of the Argentine dictatorship (1976-1983), a former police chief, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the ninth time on Friday for several crimes against humanity.

Miguel Etchecolatz, 93, former deputy police chief for the province of Buenos Aires, was convicted by a court in La Plata (60 km south of Buenos Aires), together with another officer, Julio Cesar Garachico, 81 , for sequestration, torture of seven people, and murders of four of them, which occurred in 1976 in the clandestine detention center of La Plata.

This is the ninth life sentence imposed on Mr. Etchecolatz, detained in Ezeiza south of Buenos Aires, and who followed the verdict from a distance, hospitalized for fever. Mr. Garachico, who is on house arrest for health reasons, was also not present.

The two co-accused claimed their innocence in remarks reported by the court and recorded at their place of detention. Miguel Etchecolatz, in past trials, had challenged the legitimacy of the court.

Family members of the victims were indignant to see the house arrest of Julio Cesar Garachico confirmed with cries of "Life imprisonment and effective!", until the judge evacuated the room to be able to continue the statement of the verdict.

The last sentence of Miguel Etchecolatz to life imprisonment dates back to the end of 2020, at the end of a two-year trial alongside 10 co-defendants which had covered 84 cases of kidnappings, torture and murder.

Among the key witnesses in the trials was Julio Lopez, a 77-year-old mason, a former detainee tortured under the dictatorship. Julio Lopez had "disappeared" in 2006, one day on his way to a court hearing. His disappearance, which had caused deep indignation, has never been elucidated.

According to human rights organizations, some 30,000 people disappeared under the dictatorship.

Since the dictatorship resumed trials in the mid-2000s -- after more than a decade of highly controversial amnesty measures and laws -- some 1,060 people have been convicted of crimes against humanity.


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