Argentinean Videos: the Dictatorship Cases


BUENOS AIRES 2009/2010

As of December 2009, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) will monitor the current trials of former military officials in Argentinean federal courts. The defendants are charged with severe human rights violations committed from 1976 to 1983 under the military dictatorship.

ECCHR General Secretary Wolfgang Kaleck, spokesperson and lawyer for the 1998 founded German "Coalition Against Impunity: Truth and Justice for the German disappeared in Argentina", is travelling with Berlin filmmaker Alexandra Weltz (Parkafilm) to Buenos Aires to report back in a Video Blog.

What is happening in Argentina is totally unprecedented: for the second time since members of the military junta 1984-1985 were tried, and after long-lasting years of amnesty and impunity, formal legal proceedings will take place on a large scale, and demand justice for crimes committed in the military dictatorship, (see also the comprehensive documentation of the trials, including important documents on the website of the Centro de Información Judicial).

Criminal proceedings against military officials in Europe in the 1990s set a legal precedent which contributed to the reopening of these trials. In particular, in Spain, Italy, France and Germany Argentinean human rights groups filed complaints against Argentinean military leaders on behalf of European victims, and in association with European partner.
In Germany, the work of the Coalition Against Impunity (founded 1998) led to comprehensive investigations against more than 80 former military officials, and a former manager of Mercedes Benz, Argentina, in more than 40 cases of torture, murder and disappearances.

On the 28th of November, 2003, the investigations, led by the prosecutor's office in Nuremberg-Fuerth, resulted in arrest warrants issued by the local court (Amtsgericht) in Nuremberg against former dictator Jorge Rafael Videla and against Emilio Eduardo Massera. The accused, Videla, the former Junta-boss and President, is being held in the Schengen Information system due to a European arrest warrant and wanted by Interpol since 2004.

The Federal Republic of Germany requested the extradition to Germany, until the Highest Argentinean Court dismissed the request because of the reopening of the dictatorship trials in Argentina since 2003.

On the 11th of December, 2009, the trial against leading marine officers will begin in Buenos Aires' federal court. The proceedings will shed light on the "torture center" or ESMA (Escuela de Mécanica de la Armada), and are expected to last several months. Charges have already been filed by the Nuremberg prosecutor on behalf of German citizen Adriana Marcus, survivor of torture during detention at ESMA, in the German proceedings in 2003.

Oral hearings will begin on December 15th, 2009, in the case against former members of the first army corps. This trial will address the 1977 murder of German citizen Elisabeth Käsemann. Charges for murders and torture committed in the secret detention center Campo de Mayo, including, among others, the case of the former Mercedes Benz-trade unionist, and witness Hector Anibal Ratto, (see also Labournet), are involved in an on-going trial.

Berlin filmmaker Alexandra Weltz reports in her video blog about these trials. She and Wolfgang Kaleck conduct interviews and visit some of the crime scenes. This ECCHR project is supported by Amnesty International Germany.


  • Argentina
  • former military officials
  • Germany
  • military dictatorship
  • military junta

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