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Lesson from Argentina

The ESMA trial shows that in democracy justice always acts

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Lesson from Argentina

The life sentence of several responsible for notorious death flights constitutes an important act of justice and at same time it is a practical demonstration of why all democracy-in this case Argentina-must tirelessly pursue Crimes against humanity to prevent m from being unpunished.

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The trial held in Buenos Aires — largest in history of South American country — has undoubtedly shown participation of 29 of defendants in a cruel and systematic extermination of persons executed during Argentine military dictatorship (1976-1983). Every Wednesday, political prisoners whose families were not even informed of ir status as detainees, were drugged, stripped and introduced in cargo planes from which, at high altitude, were thrown alive into sea. The trial has shown 789 cases, but by mechanical School of Navy (ESMA) of Buenos Aires passed about 5,000 people whose immense majority has not been heard again. The horrifying number of disappeared of dictatorship round 30,000, and we can not forget that among m are also Spanish citizens.

In 40 years since murders, re have been all sorts of circumstances that have made relatives of victims and all Argentine Democrats justifiably believe that y would never see those responsible for se crimes accountable to Justice. In addition to that some of culprits died in this period, laws of Obedience Due (1987) and of Final Point (1986) were a coup hard because y allowed perpetrators of material of crimes to be unpunished. It is justice to recognize former President Néstor Kirchner (2003-2007) His commitment to correct this situation by getting Argentine Congress to grant constitutional status to United Nations Convention on Applicability of war crimes and Against humanity and repeal controversial laws.

With that open door, Argentine justice has been able to investigate and carry out a process that has lasted five years in which defendants have enjoyed all legal guarantees granted by a democracy, something y denied ir victims. The sentence is also very important because it demonstrates existence of a systematic, almost industrial plan of murder of people whose only crime was ideological dissent and has shown permissive silence, when not collusion, of many bodies Of Argentine society to what has been one of most heinous crimes committed in Latin America in twentieth century.

Nothing will bring life back to victims or years of struggle with ir families, but with this Argentine judgment sends an important message to world: re is never impunity for human rights violators.

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