Argentinean Dictatorship Cases: the German "Coalition against Impunity" to press Criminal Charges
More than 30,000 people fell victim to the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina between 1976 and 1983. The victims included around one hundred people with German citizenship or German roots. Since 1998 the German Coalition against Impunity (Koalition gegen Straflosigkeit), of which ECCHR is a member, has been assisting victims who are German or of German heritage in seeking justice through German prosecution authorities. More than forty cases have been submitted to authorities, including by ECCHR General Secretary Wolfgang Kaleck, one of the Coalition’s lawyers. The case of Elisabeth Käsemann is representative of the action taken by the Coalition.
For crimes that occurred prior to 2002, when the German Code of Crimes against International Law came into effect, German authorities have jurisdiction in cases in which the victims are German citizens. In 2003, after years of comprehensive investigations by the prosecutor in Nuremberg-Fürth, the Nuremberg District Court issued arrest warrants for former state and military leaders Jorge Rafael Videla and Emilio Eduardo Massera in connection with the murder of Germans Elisabeth Käsemann and Klaus Zieschank. The German government has been actively attempting to secure the extradition from Argentina of the two generals since 2004. The extradition request was rejected by the Argentine Supreme Court in 2007. In 2010 and 2012, courts in Argentina handed down extended prison sentences to Videla, who died in prison on 17 May 2013. Massera was sentenced in 1985 but was granted an amnesty in 1990. Further investigations were initiated against him after 2007, but these cases were not pursued further as health problems meant he was deemed unfit to stand trial. He died on 8 November 2010.
As part of the Coalition against Impunity, ECCHR is involved in a number of ways in the proceedings in Argentina concerning the murder and enforced disappearance of German citizens: through the monitoring of trials, as representatives – through our cooperating attorneys – of joint plaintiffs, and by providing support to witnesses.
ECCHR is also examining the involvement of private actors in the crimes of the dictatorship. The crimes all had an economic dimension and were in part driven by financial interests. ECCHR is working to bring to justice the economic actors that facilitated and profited from the crimes of the Argentine dictatorship between 1976 and 1983. ECCHR is supporting three cases which are representative of the role played by corporations during the military dictatorship.
ECCHR is also lending its support to the investigations in Argentina by submitting expert legal opinions on the developments in international law around the definition of crimes against humanity and the classification of sexual violence as a form of torture and inhuman treatment.
Court documents in German language you can find here.
Interview with Ellen Marx, holocaust survivor and distinguished member of the Argentinean human rights movement.
Media and Links
TRIAL Watch Profiles
Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists - Argentina: Legal Memorandum the Full Stop and Due Obedience Laws submitted
26 February 2004
DW-World - German Justice Pursues Argentina's Killers
4 December 2003
Amnesty International - ARGENTINA: Cases of "disappeared" facing judicial closure in Germany
DW-World - Corte Suprema argentina rechaza extradición ex dictadores a Alemania
02 de julio de 2008
DW-World - Alemania sigue reclamando a Videla
23 de mayo de 2007
Coalición contra la Impunidad - Exposición: Fútbol y Derechos Humanos http://www.menschenrechte.org/Menschenrechte/coalicion.htm
Coalición contra la Impunidad - Ex Presidente Videla arrestado en Buenos Aires a petición del Tribunal de Nuremberg
27 de enero de 2004
Actualidad - Pedido de captura para Videla, Massera y Suárez Mason
3 de diciembre de 2003
Rodolfo Yanzón - Judicialización de crímenes de derechos humanos de la dictadura militar en Argentina