Human rights violators and important witnesses disappear mysteriously
Eighteen months have passed since the disappearance of Jorge Julio López, a key witness in the trial of former Buenos Aires police chief Miguel Etchecolatz, who was sentenced to life in prison in 2006 for running 20 death camps, and now the murder of an officer in a navy prison, the suspicious suicide of another officer in an air force hotel and numerous death threats seem to show that human right violators keep a powerful network active.
Pandolfi and human rights organizations now say they are worried about recent reports that similar events are taking place. The issue has even become an important issue for President Cristina Fernández, whose government and that of her husband, Néstor Kirchner (2003-2007), have had a clear stance against human rights violations.
On Dec. 10 of last year, Héctor Febres, a former prefect of Argentina’s coastguards and one of the most sadistic repressors of the dictatorship, who was a central figure in the trafficking of newborn babies in detention centers, was found poisoned with cyanide.
It was too strange to be a coincidence, many said; it was the day Cristina Fernández took office.
On more than one occasion Febres had told his relatives that he felt abandoned by his fellow comrades. This led for them to fear that when the time came on Dec. 13 for him to testify in the baby trafficking case, he could mention the names of other officers, implicating them in this and other crimes. Instead, he died three days before.
Less than three months later, on Feb. 25, Army Lt. Col. Paul Alberto Navone, a former intelligence agent, was found dead in an air force hotel in the Cordoba province. Like Febres, he was scheduled to testify three days after his death, also in a trial for baby-trafficking in a military hospital in interior Argentina. Authorities are still investigating his death.