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Judge Pedro Federico Hooft took part in the commission of crimes against humanity

The cases of Judge Hooft and the Prosecutor Demarchi are directly related to the military dictatorship, of that there is not the slightest doubt. This statement is simply based on the legal evidence against them.

Nevertheless, the case of Judge Hooft assumes a particular relevance because it reflects not just a factual but also an ideological link with National Socialism. This ideology is alive and well, albeit in a shaded way, in the agrarian conservatism, so present in the Province of Buenos Aires.

Juez Pedro Federico Hooft

Indeed, this ideological structure holds sway in the city of Mar del Plata, particularly within the judiciary, as has been highlighted in the case of Juez Pedro Federico Hooft and the case of the prosecutor Gustavo Modesto Demarchi.

It is reinforced by means of the media control exercised by the proprietor Florencio Alchery Iglesias, very close to the Francoist doctrine, a natural ideological partner of National Socialism.

Social control over the forms of opinion and thinking is exerted through these media sources by use of clearly defamatory campaigns against human rights defenders and judges or simply by opposing justice for the victims of the military dictatorship.

The media involved in this are the newspaper "La Prensa" in Buenos Aires; the newspaper "La Capital" in Mar del Plata; three AM radio channels: Radio Atlántica, Radio Mar del Plata and Radio 14.60, as well as various FM music radio channels.

Gustavo Modesto Demarchi was included in the April 9th, 2008 judgement set out in the Mar del Plata case concerning the "Concentración Nacionalista Universitaria" or CNU (Nationalist University Concentration). (Resolución Final del Tribunal Oral Federal de Mar del Plata).

The CNU was an ultra-right paramilitary group which operated in the city of Mar del Plata (and La Plata) and whose membership included functionaries of the University of Mar del Plata, and of the Federal Prosecutor's Office of Mar del Plata and officers of the Police of the Province of Buenos Aires and of the Federal Police. The politics of the members of the CNU was in complete harmony with the politics of the state officials who formed part of the Triple A (the Argentinian Anti-Communist Alliance), a criminal organization created by the former Minister of Social Welfare, José López Rega, run by State officials and which operated in the country during 1973 and 1975, seeking to eliminate "subversives" or government opponents.

Gustavo Modesto Demarchi was tried for crimes against humanity committed by the CNU and was officially declared a fugitive from justice on 14 November 2010. In fact, to escape from justice, he fled to Colombia. Despite an attempt to grant him "political" asylum by the authorities of that country, the Supreme Court of Colombia finally allowed his extradition to Argentina in a decision of 28 March 2012. He was surrendered to Argentina on 21 September 2012. Days later, on 10th October, the federal judge of Mar del Plata, Santiago Inchausti, of Federal Court Nš 3, ordered his indictment and provisional imprisonment for crimes against humanity committed in 1975 and 1976 by the CNU.

Both Demarchi and Judge Hooft were members of extermination units created in 1972 by the War Navy, specifically Task Force nš 6, located at the submarine base at Mar del Plata which reported to the Navy Intelligence Service headquarters based in Puerto Belgrano.

* * *

With respect to Judge Hooft, he is in the news again as a result of the campaign which has raged particularly in the last few weeks against the prosecuting lawyers in the cases for crimes against humanity now pending in Mar del Plata.

On March 5th 2013, the Tribunal for the Prosecution of Judges and Officials (Jurado de Enjuiciamiento de Magistrados y Funcionarios), met in La Plata and unanimously decided to "suspend..... Dr. Pedro Federico C. Hooft, resolving to embargo 40% of the suspended judge's salary".

The said tribunal is the constitutional body in charge of the prosecution of judges of inferior courts in Argentina, in accordance with article 115 of the National Constitution.

The proceeding for removal of judges and magistrates from office is known in Argentina as a political trial. In the case of the Judge Pedro Federico Cornelio Hooft, this proceeding commenced in 2006 shortly after a criminal complaint was brought against him.

As set forth by human rights organisations from Mar del Plata:

"It was on the basis of the National Reorganization Process (el Proceso de Reorganización Nacional) that Pedro Federico Hooft was sworn in as a criminal judge in the Judicial Department of Mar del Plata. In June 1976 he was named head of Court Nš3, and it was to this court that the neglected petitions of habeas corpus were submitted in the respect of the lawyers who disappeared during the so-called 'Night of the Ties'" ("Noche de las Corbatas"), so called in reference to the fact that the majority of the kidnapped were lawyers.

After seven years of struggle and persistence, the human rights organizations of Mar del Plata, with the legal assistance of César Sivo and Natalia Messineo, achieved the judge's suspension on 5 March, 2013. Now his possible permanent removal is pending resolution in the same tribunal.

However in the last two months there have been concerted efforts by Hooft and his family to subvert the accusations which allege his complicity and participation in the repression of the last civic-military dictatorship.

What follows is the judicial evidence which the Supreme Court of Justice considered relevant and necessary to investigate Hooft.

The incriminating acts.

Between 6th and 13th July 1977, eleven people were kidnapped in Mar del Plata and kept in the former radar station on the Naval Base. Six of them were lawyers: Norberto Centeno, Salvador Manuel Arestín, Raúl Hugo Alaiz, Camilo Ricci, Carlos A. Bozzi y Tomás J. Fresneda.

The other five persons were José Verde and his wife, María de las Mercedes Argañaraz de Fresneda -four months pregnant at the time - , María Esther Vázquez de García and her husband Néstor Enrique García Mantica.

Verde and his wife, Ricci and Bozzi survived their tragic imprisonment. The rest remain disappeared.

Marta García de Candeloro and her husband, the labour lawyer Jorge Candeloro were taken to Neuquén an then transferred to Mar del Plata.

All the petitions for habeas corpus in respect of the victims of kidnapping in the " Night of the Ties" were submitted to the court of Pedro Federico Hooft.

According to the case which was commenced in 2006, Hooft interceded with Colonel Pedro Barda -Chief of Sub-Zone 15- to obtain the release of Camilo Ricci. However he did not admit the habeas corpus petition submitted in respect of the other lawyers kidnapped. He even rejected an appeal on behalf of Jorge Candeloro despite being aware that he had been arrested by the Federal Police in Neuquén and transferred with his wife to Mar del Plata.

In October 1977, three months after the kidnapping of the lawyers, Colonel Barda informed Hooft that Candeloro had been killed in a showdown, but the judge did not investigate, nor did he ask the Army for further explanations. Nor, indeed, did he request that the body be handed over to the relatives who had submitted another habeas corpus in 1979 in Neuquén.

Hooft argued that the file was not in his power but one of the lawyers representing the victims, Natalia Messineo, stated that " "Hooft made the habeas corpus of Jorge Candeloro and Marta García disappear". This statement was confirmed in 2007 when the habeas corpus petition was found in the court files of Hooft's courtroom by officials of the Human Rights Secretariat of the Province of Buenos Aires. The files contained decisions signed by him in 1981, 1984 and 1987.

Amongst these papers was also found the habeas corpus petition submitted by the mother of Pablo Mancini, Clelia Remondino. According to Messineo this petition received a positive response from Lt Colonel Costa of the GADA 601 (the 601st Anti-Aircraft Artillery Group -Grupo de Artillería de Defensa Aérea) which advised Hooft that "on 25th October 1976, in the course of military and security operations against subversion carried out in compliance with the orders of Superior Command, the arrest of Pablo José Mancini took place". " He is now detained at the disposition of these Sub-Zone Military Headquarters", the judge was informed. But Hooft rejected the petition for habeas corpus on 29 October 1976 stating that "his loss of liberty was justified". As Messineo maintained, "the mother of Pablo Mancini -who was deprived of his liberty and remained disappeared until 24 December 1976- was never informed of this report". One of the criminal records still missing concerns the case of Juan Bourg and Alicia Rodríguez de Bourg who were kidnapped on the 5th and 7th September 1977 respectively in the family's farm house on the Camino Viejo to Miramar. This military operation included about 20 armed personnel of the Army and the security forces acting in a joint operation and carrying out a plan drawn up by the Army authorities. From the evidence in the case it appears that the couple was kept at the Mar del Plata Naval Base. They remain disappeared today.

Two cases were brought before Hooft's court in which he should have carried out an investigation into the detention of this couple. In both cases, Hooft issued a provisional stay of the proceedings, despite the fact that the court was in possession of a document signed by Colonel Barda authorizing the tenant of the lands of the Bourg family to continue to exploit them and acknowledging that the couple were imprisoned as "subversive criminals".

In addition, from the testimony given in this case by the sons of the married couple, it is clear that "in Hooft's court, their grandmother was shown a book which affirmed the death of their mother during a showdown. When she returned with a witness to see again what she had been shown, she was not allowed to see it".

For the above reasons, the case against Hooft was initiated in 2006 with a criminal complaint filed by the then National Human Rights Secretary, Eduardo Luis Duhalde.

The request for a political trial arrived a month later and was submitted by the Provincial Commission for Memory, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, The Workers Centre of Argentina (Central de Trabajadores de Argentina (CTA)), the Judicial Federation and various human rights organisations of Mar del Plata, represented by the lawyers Natalia Messineo and César Sivo.

In 2007, 2008 and 2010 this request for a political trial was broadened by a complaint concerning new acts and the submission of new evidence against the judge arising in the course of different criminal trials for crimes against humanity involving members of the Armed Forces of Mar del Plata.

But it was only on 5th March 2013 that the Tribunal for the Prosecution of Judges and Officials suspended Hooft from his duties. The consequence of this suspension is that he can no longer act as a judge in the Criminal and Correctional Court and that 40% of his salary will be embargoed. Now it remains for the Tribunal to fix a date for a jury to consider whether he should be removed as a judge.

The criminal case

In parallel with the political trial, the criminal case is going on in Federal Court Nš1 of Mar del Plata presided over by Judge Martín Bava, who took over the case after several judges recused themselves. The criminal case was seriously delayed twice as a result of dilatory arguments submitted by Hooft which were finally decided in the Court of Criminal Appeal and the Supreme Court of Justice.

One of the defence arguments was that of res judicata. In this argument, Hooft maintains that he has "already been tried" for the acts of which he is being accused. This defence was rejected in the political trial; and in the criminal case it was rejected by the first instance Judge, the Court of Appeals of Mar del Plata, the Court of Criminal Appeals and now, on 9th April, by the Supreme Court of Justice. Thus, the highest court in the land has declared that Hooft should be prosecuted.

The federal prosecutor Claudio Kishimoto and Jorge Auat, head of the "Prosecution Unit responsible for co-ordinating and monitoring the cases of human rights violations committed during the period of State Terrorism", have requested that Hooft be summonsed for questioning, a request that was accepted by Judge Bava. Thus Hooft has now been summonsed to respond to questioning on three occasions and has failed, without cause, to reply.

The suspended judge is now considered to be a prima facie participant in the following crimes against Jorge Candeloro, Norberto Centeno, Hugo Alais, Tomás Fresneda, Mercedes Algañaraz de Fresneda, Salvador Arestín, María Esther Vázquez de García, Néstor Enrique García Mantica, Juan Raúl Bourg, Alicia Rodríguez Bourg, Juan Manuel Barboza, Silvia Ibañez de Barboza and Eduardo Caballero: the illegal deprivation of liberty aggravated by the use of violence and threats; the use of torture aggravated by the fact that the victims were politically persecuted; and the crime of homicide aggravated by the fact that it was premeditated and carried out by three or more participants. In the cases of Marta Haydée García de Candeloro and Pablo Galileo Mancini he is considered to have participated in the crimes of illegal deprivation of liberty aggravated by the use of violence and threats and the use of torture aggravated by the fact that the victims were politically persecuted. In the cases of Carlos Bozzi, José Verde and María de la Arena he is accused of participating in the crime of illegal deprivation of liberty aggravated by the use of violence and threats.

He is also accused of being responsible for the crimes of misconduct in public office, failure to further the prosecution and prosecution of criminals, failure to terminate an illegal arrest, violation of the rules of evidence, registries and documents and deceit by suppression in relation to the disappearance of criminal files concerning the acts of which he is now accused and which formed part of the proceedings before Criminal Court Nš 3 of which he was the head during the military dictatorship.

* * *

With respect to Judge Hooft's appeal on the basis of res judicata in the context of the criminal proceedings brought against him for crimes against humanity, as we mentioned above, the Supreme Court decided on 9th April 2013 to dismiss the extraordinary appeal made by his lawyers.

It was in effect a submission by the Judge's defence against a judgement of the 2nd Chamber of the Federal Court of Criminal Appeals which had refused to quash the decision to reject a defence of res judicata.

This defence was based on the argument that in the proceedings against the judge in 1993 concerning the events of the Night of the Ties and the "Candeloro Case" and in the criminal proceedings currently going on in the first instance federal court of Mar del Plata, the subject, object and legal rationale were identical.

The Federal Court of Appeals in Mar del Plata confirmed the lower court's decision rejecting the defence of res judicata.

The offenses were categorised as crimes against humanity committed during the last military government.

Likewise, the "Procuración General" decided that the submission containing this appeal did not meet the requirements provided for under art. 15 of Law 48 - Competences and Organisation of National Tribunals.

Deciding that this argument was inadmissible and should be rejected were the magistrates Elena I. Highton de Nolasco, Carlos S. Fayt, Enrique Santiago Petracchi, Juan Carlos Maqueda and Carmen María Argibay.

* * *

On 15th April 2013, Judge Pedro Federico Hooft, in an act of legal chicanery to help his defence, submitted before the Federal Court of Appeals in Mar del Plata a complaint together with his son and defence lawyer, Pedro Federico Guillermo Hooft and sponsored by the lawyer Héctor Granillo Fernández.

The defence's reasonings are simply an attempt to find a basis for annulling the proceedings faced with the impossibility of rebutting the proof of the crimes against humanity committed by this individual and recent judicial decisions against him by the highest courts in the country.

Effectively, using the reactionary perspective to which these individuals are accustomed, the victims were merely "guerrillas" and therefore, the lawyers that represent these victims are part of the "organization" that is now confronting the defendants.

It is no more than one of the tautological arguments used in the National Socialist doctrine maintained by the War Navy in all jurisdictions - not just that of Mar del Plata -and which was used by the media which represented the Joint Chiefs of Staff of Puerto Belgrano such as "La Nueva Provincia" in Bahía Blanca, "La Prensa" in Mar del Plata and the rest of the cohort of journalists who in those days were entirely a function of this philosophical doctrine.

According to the newspaper La Capital of Mar del Plata, an essential element in the PR campaign supporting the suspended Judge, "[T]he complaint seeks to establish the existence of an illicit association made up of members of the Federal Judiciary, the office of the Attorney General and a well known local lawyer to construct a criminal case of crimes against humanity against Provincial Judge Pedro Hooft". "The complainants are seeking the investigation of three prosecutors from Mar del Plata, of officials of a national institution and of a local lawyer for alleged crimes of 'procedural fraud, ideological deception, breach of public duty and misconduct in public office'".

Specifically, the targets of Judge Hooft's complaint are : the head of the Prosecution Unit responsible for co-ordinating and monitoring cases of human rights violations committed during the period of State Terrorism, Jorge Eduardo Auat; the Public Prosecutor of Courts of Federal jurisdiction of the Department of Mar del Plata, Daniel Eduardo Adler; the prosecutors in the current proceedings, Pablo Esteban Larriera and Claudio R. Kishimoto, the acting prosecutor María Eugenia Montero, the federal judge Martín Bava and the prosecuting attorney representing the victims, Dr. César Raúl Sivo.

At the same time, Andrés Barbieri, former Buenos Aires police officer and defence attorney for three of the defendants in the CNU proceedings (Roberto Alejandro Justel, Juan Carlos Asaro and Luis Roberto Coronel), would have filed a criminal complaint against the lawyer César Sivo and various officials of the National Human Rights Secretariat for "possessing complete access to legal files and direct communication with the judges and officials who manage human rights cases".

* * *

Pedro Cornelio Federico Hooft, according to the summary he submitted himself to the legal authorities when he filed a claim that the law which prevented him from being a judge for reasons of nationality was unconstitutional "was born in Utrecht, Holland, on 25 April 1942, entered the country in 1948 and obtained Argentinian nationality in 1965".

In 1966 he graduated with honours in law from the Catholic University. The same year he entered the judiciary of the Province of Buenos Aires as a first instance Secretary and later was elevated to a Secretary to the Chamber. In 1970 he was named head of the Prosecutor's Office of the Judicial Department of Mar del Plata and obtained confirmation of that position in 1974. By a decree 1611/79 he was made head of Criminal Court Nš3 of the same Department, which position was confirmed in decree 1151/84 and he was sworn in as a judge on 6th July of that year following constitutional agreement.

He was a member of the nationalist and catholic groups united in the CNU who had a strong presence in La Plata and Mar del Plata from 1975 onwards and where he held the position of academic secretary of the State University on behalf of the CNU.

On 9 April 2008 the Federal Trial Court of Mar del Plata ordered the commencement of an investigation into criminal acts attributed to the CNU and the Triple A and which the Court described as "crimes against humanity".

The origin of this case was a petition filed by the lawyer César Sivo, with the support of his legal colleagues Natalia Messineo and María Fernanda Di Clemente, seeking to open a criminal investigation to examine the conduct of civilians who had participated in the illegal repression from 1975 onwards.

It is clear from the case that some of the high profile members of the CNU were: Piero Asaro, accused by the Federal Prosecutor as being an ideological leader of the CNU, Gustavo Demarchi, Raúl Viglizzio, Eduardo Cincotta, José Luis Granel and Roberto Coronel. These individuals were involved in deciding the actions of the "operational" members of the group, including Eduardo Ullúa, Oscar Corres, Juan Carlos González and Roberto Justel.

The group was notable for openly carrying out a political persecution of the leftist Peronist militants as well as of anyone with suspicious socialist or communist leanings, pursuant to a policy encouraged and supported by a particular sector of the national government at that time.

In case nš 40.188, "ROVIRA, Miguel s/prisión preventiva", dated 14 March 2008, the 2nd Chamber of the National Criminal and Correctional Court in the Federal Capital (majority Judges Freiler and Cattani, Farah dissenting), found that the existence of this organization and the crimes committed had been proved, and further held that these constituted crimes against humanity given that the crimes were committed by an organisation which carried out its criminal plan either with the participation or acceptance of the government de iure or with the use of power which neutralised the government's institutional resources.

The Federal Trial Court of Mar del Plata reached a similar conclusion in its final judgement issued in case nš 890/12 of 8th April 2008, "Colegio de Abogados de Mar del Plata y otros s/denuncia s/desaparición forzada de personas s/inc. Universidad Nacional de mar del Plata s/actividades de inteligencia de la represión ilegal" ("College of Lawyers of Mar del Plata et al. /complaints/forced disappearances of persons/ including National University of Mar del Plata/intelligence activities in the illegal repression"). This judgement in referring to the activities of the CNU states: "The acts described below have been committed by an organized group with war weaponry received from the "Triple A", from which organisation it also received official credential and explosives; the operatives of the group relied on the support of the Provincial and local Federal police, and enjoyed the passive complicity of the intelligence services and the Armed Forces. It would be naive to believe that the actions of this group were decided in this city. In fact everything suggests that such a decision to facilitate the commission of all these crimes was taken by higher authorities".

On the other hand, in order to carry out the objective of persecution and elimination of leftist militants (above all the militants in the sphere of the local university) the organization did not operate in an improvised way, which would be usual in the case of almost all common crimes. Rather, the actions involved in targetting those persons who were ideologically opposed to them were strategically planned over a long period. This is what helped them to achieve the desired purpose with the highest efficiency. This systematization is prima facie apparent from a review of the official positions occupied in the State by the CNU members and the assistance they received from various administrative departments of the both the national and provincial governments.

In fact, in the University of Mar del Plata, there were CNU members such as the "normalizing"[imposed by the Military] rector of the local University, José Josué Catuogno, who was alleged by Soarez and Navarro to be connected to the CNU. This individual, in turn, confirmed Eduardo Cincotta as Secretary General of the so-called Study House (" Casa de Estudios") and Gustavo Demarchi as teaching co-ordinator. Both of these were members of the group, as is disclosed in the report submitted by the Provincial Commission for Memory,"Various Files concerning the National University Concentration (CNU)" . It is also shown in various corroborating testimonies which have been referred to by the prosecutor in his petition for investigation at pp.. 1216/1254. In addition, at least 10 officials with custodial and surveillance duties who were also members of the organization were contracted by the University. Carlos Alberto Cervara revealed the existence of "pressures" on the Faculty by the CNU which were a consequence of the fact that "the fascist right wing had taken over the University apparatus" (pp. 317/319 and transcription of tape recording kept in Box entitled "National Criminal and Correctional Court Nš 5" of the Federal Capital as confidential documentary annex).

The local and federal police forces had agreed with the University authorities to occupy positions in the university as "security guards" (according to a memorandum of 15th May 1975, produced by the Information Department of the Mar del Plata Prefecture).

The advantage of occupying these positions in the heart of the University was that it facilitated the most effective political persecution of the leftist militants.

At least from 1974 the CNU became the regional arm of the Triple A - the Argentinian Anti-Communist Alliance with the aim of furthering the objectives of the same. On this point, ".......they committed crimes of every kind, from murders to robberies aggravated by the use of weapons, substitution of the number plates of the vehicles used to carry out the various acts of political persecution, falsification of documents, use of false documentation or identification, public intimidation, serious arson, coercion, vehicle theft, illegal imprisonment and other injustices. To achieve this they established an organization in which the various roles and functions were assigned....." (Resolución final en el Caso del CNU en Mar del Plata calificando sus actos criminales como "crímenes contra la humanidad") Furthermore, with the advent of the dictatorship of 24 March 1976, some of the members of this organization went on to play a direct role in the "official" repressive apparatus, and some even became agents of the various "services".

* * *

The harassment and intimidation of the prosecuting lawyers such as Dr César Sivo as well as members of the judiciary in these trials for crimes against humanity is not surprising given the social and political control which the Admiralty still retains over the local press who are within the jurisdiction of the Naval Bases where the Task Forces responsible for extermination operations displayed their action.

In September 2008 the lawyer Natalia Andrea Messineo had to seek urgent intervention from the Office of the Attorney General to guarantee the safety of Dr. César Sivo. This occurred days after eight repressors from the Naval Base, the Prefecture and ESIM (Navy NCO School) were arrested in Mar del Plata. At the same time there were hearings going on at Federal Trial Court Nš 5 in Buenos Aires where information was being provided as to the functioning of the Clandestine Detention Centres located in the Mar del Plata area, such as La Cueva.

The source of the intimidation of Dr. César Sivo relies on the Navy's counter-intelligence services linked to the covert operations established to "defend" the Task Forces. The evidence is overwhelming. For example, in the middle of 2006 an anchor was painted on the wall in front of this lawyer's private residence, painted in the naval regulation colours and of the type used by the War Navy. That, in conjunction with the insults made against him leave no doubt as to the ominous naval symbolism. It is precisely from 2006, when the complaint against Judge Hooft was first filed, that the campaign against this lawyer has become more virulent.

Since that time, the counter-intelligence operations designed to produce the abandonment of the case, primarily by Dr Sivo, have included various acts, including artificial demonstrations outside his law offices, undue pressure on his work colleagues and his clients, intrusion in his personal life and so on; the execution of these operations entail the use of different techniques of surveillance, interception of communication and infiltration.

In fact, these types of intimidating tactics are typical of those cases which involve the Argentinian War Navy, and were also used in Madrid against the only lawyer who pursued a prosecution for crimes against humanity in the case of Adolfo Scilingo, a legal and ethical position which finally prevailed, notwithstanding the pressure applied against it from sectors of the Navy.

The common denominator in these situations is that these are all cases pertaining to crimes against humanity involving the Argentinian War Navy. The War Navy project, headed by the now deceased Admiral Massera, was started in 1970 in Puerto Belgrano (the Argentinian Navy Headquarters) and was undoubtedly a consequence of National Socialist ideas.

It is worth emphasising that this political and ideological project began to take hold with the conclusion of the Onganía regime, and thus in 1972 the War Navy already had a plan which included a policy of extermination by creating Task Forces, the operation of which (applying the experience of Germany during the Second World War) would be based on a counter-intelligence model which sought to persecute and exterminate students, intellectuals, workers and social activists, all of whom, according to their analysis, were covert agents of international communism. In the language of the Argentinian repression they were called "subversives".

Admiral Massera took over political control of the national universities, first indirectly and later directly, by nominating Carlos Frattini as the Director General of Universities during the period when Oscar Ivanissevich was Minister of Culture and Education. Frattini was a well-known reactionary and member of Opus Dei.

At this time the consent of Puerto Belgrano was required for any appointment within the National Universities. The control of the Universities was achieved ruthlessly, with the support of the reactionary National Socialist factions and, in one way, continues today given that the existing university model is a continuation of the system developed in that period.

The perfect example of this model was the repression that took place in the Universities of La Plata, Mar del Plata and the Universidad del Sur.

To carry out the extermination plan, as explained above, Task Forces were used and these, in practice, were made up of civilians and members of other military forces. These groups were structurally and operationally copied from the National Socialist Einsatzgruppen deployed for the extermination operations in Eastern Europe.

According to the policy, the regions close to the naval bases were solely within the jurisdiction of the War Navy. This is shown in the so-called "Plan of Competences" drawn up in 1972 and modified in November 1975 and again in June 1976, this last signed by the then Commander of Naval Operations, Vice-Admiral Luis Mendía. It is therefore incontrovertible that in the three mentioned areas, all army operations were subordinated to the orders and directions of the War Navy.

In the case of Mar del Plata, Task Force nš 6 (FUERTAR6) was deployed. This Task Force reported operationally to the Submarine Forces. It was made up of the Group of Tactical Divers, the Group of Amphibian Commandos, the Submarine School, the Anti Submarine School, the Diving School, the NCO School Marine, the Prefecture of the Sea, the Prefecture of Mar del Plata, the Prefecture of Quequen, the Sub-Prefecture General Lavalle and sub-offices in Mar del Plata and the Mar del Plata area.

We now know as a result of the investigations carried out in the city of Mar del Plata that Judge Pedro Federico Hooft - a National Socialist, and member of the CNU, who during the period of the dictatorship lived inside the Naval Base of Mar del Plata- and the Prosecutor Gustavo Modesto Demarchi were part of this Task Force.

Once the trial of chief commanders in the case known as Causa 13 was concluded, the legal defence strategy of the War Navy was both simple and effective: they left the officers identified in the Prosecutor's indictment in Case Nš 761 ESMA ("Acta de acusación de la fiscalía en la causa nš 761 ESMA) exposed to public contempt as well some of the collaborators who appear in the documentary evidence used in the military trials which were put in place by the Navy to apparently "try" the Navy officers involved in the repression but before their own military tribunals.

Case nš 761 was commenced as a result of the judgement of Causa 13 and then "suspended" because of the so-called Full Stop Law. This legal strategy was organized and financed from Bahía Blanca, according to statements of the defence lawyers themselves.

The foregoing was complemented by an iron socio-political control within the city of Bahía Blanca and with a particular control of the federal courts in that city and the Federal Capital, where they managed to ensure that the "Navy Case" was sidelined from the legal calendar.

The Admiralty, with its headquarters in Puerto Belgrano, has concerned itself with the destiny of its officers, particularly with that of Frigate Lieutenant Miguel Angel Cavallo, closely linked to the city of Punta Alta, to the extent that they managed to obtain the annulment of his trial in Spain and his transfer to Buenos Aires, where he was included in the deeds of Task Force 3.3.2 considered in the ESMA case.

This operation required a sophisticated legal and procedural strategy in both Argentina and Spain,and for this the War Navy relied in Argentina on the advice of the lawer Eduardo Salerno, in charge of the Admiralty's Department of Human Rights, at that time run by Head of Army General Staff of the Argentinian Republic, Admiral Jorge Omar Godoy.

Until the case of Lieutenant Commander Adolfo Francisco Scilingo Manzorro, who was born in Bahía Blanca on 28 July 1946, and who surrendered himself to the authorities in Madrid in order to make a statement, no Navy officer had explained the mechanics of the criminal operations of the War Navy in a legal forum.

To paraphrase the President of The Supreme Court, Dr. Ricardo Lorenzetti, during a speech he made in 11th August 2010, "and here we turn over a new page, because a statement is no longer sufficient as a form of justice. We are entering into a scenario where effective justice matters, the kind that is obtained by an investigation, a trial, and a conviction or an acquittal".

Justice will be done.

Editorial team: Radio Nizkor

Charleroi, Bahía Blanca and Mar del Plata
13 May 2013

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