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Human Rights violators indicted in Uruguay PDF Print E-mail
Weekly News Update on the Americas,
September 17, 2006
Nicaragua Solidarity Network of New York


Ramas and Maurente are both graduates of the US Army's School of the Americas (SOA): Ramas took a course there in 1962, while Maurente studied military intelligence at SOA from January to May of 1976, shortly before the disappearances he is now charged with.

On Sept. 11 in Montevideo, Uruguayan criminal court judge Luis Charles indicted six retired military officers and two retired police agents on charges of "deprivation of liberty" and "association to commit crime" for the September 1976 disappearance of leftist activist Adalberto Waldemar Soba.

The eight former officers are accused of the 1976 disappearances in Argentina of Soba, Alberto Mechoso, Gerardo Gatti and Leon Duarte, members of the Uruguayan leftist Party for the People's Victory (PVP). Soba and Mechoso were detained and tortured in the Automotores Orletti clandestine detention center in Buenos Aires; their bodies have never been found. The case also involves the 1974 disappearance of Washington Barrios, a member of the leftist Tupamaros National Liberation Movement.

Judge Charles could only proceed with indictments in the Soba case, since the other cases are covered by a December 1986 law-- Law 15.848, the Law of Expiration (Caducidad)--that granted amnesty to military officers for crimes committed under the 1973-1985 dictatorship. Last May 24, Uruguayan president Tabare Vazquez signed a resolution explicitly excluding the Soba case from Law 15.848.

The retired officers indicted Sept. 11 are colonels Gilberto Vazquez Bisio, Jorge Silveira and Ernesto Avelino Ramas Pereira; Lt. Col. Jose Nino Gavazzo; Capt. Luis Alfredo Maurente Mata; former captain Jose Ricardo Arab Fernandez, who was dismissed by the military in February 1978; and retired police agents Ricardo Medina and Jose Felipe Sande Lima.

Vazquez, Silveira, Ramas, Gavazzo, Arab and Medina have been jailed since last May; Judge Aida Vera Barreto ordered their preventive detention on May 8, based on an extradition request from Argentine judge Daniel Rafecas, who is investigating the 1976 disappearance in Buenos Aires of Maria Claudia Garcia Irureta Goyena, daughter-in-law of Uruguayan writer Juan Gelman.[It was not clear when Sande and Maurente were detained, but both were already in detention when Judge Charles indicted them on Sept. 11.] Ramas and Maurente are detained at the Military Hospital; the others are held at the Central Jail of Montevideo. Demonstrators greeted the ex-officers with a hail of eggs and rocks as they were escorted from the courtroom on Sept. 11.

Retired colonel Juan Antonio Rodriguez Buratti was also included in the indictment, but he committed suicide on the evening of Sept. 10 by shooting himself in the head as police arrived at his home to arrest him. Rodriguez Buratti headed a department of the Defense Information Service (SID) in charge of "Plans, Operations and Liaison." Luisa Cuesta, a member of the group Mothers and Relatives of Detained-Disappeared Uruguayans, called Rodriguez Buratti's suicide "an act of cowardice," and expressed concern that "he took important information with him to his grave."

Judge Charles issued an arrest warrant for another military officer, Col. Manuel Cordero, a fugitive believed to be living in Brazil.

All eight of the indicted ex-officers and Cordero were part of the Coordinating Body of Anti-subversive Operations (OCOA), which collaborated with its counterparts in Argentina during the military regimes of the 1970s and 1980s. All except Silveira and Ramas worked in the SID under Buratti, operating out of the Automotores Orletti detention center.

Ramas and Maurente are both graduates of the US Army's School of the Americas (SOA): Ramas took a course there in 1962, while Maurente studied military intelligence at SOA from January to May of 1976, shortly before the disappearances he is now charged with.
 

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