Uruguayan officers detained for "dirty war" crimes.

Three retired Uruguayan army officers and a former secret police agent have been arrested pending extradition to Argentina in connection with the kidnapping and murder of a renowned poet's daughter-in-law.

Retired Col. Jorge Silveira Quesada, Lt. Col. José Nino Gavazzo and Capt. José Ricardo Arab Fernández, along with former police agent Ricardo Medina Blanco, were detained late Friday and Saturday morning after being accused by Argentine judicial authorities of taking part in the 1976 kidnapping and murder of the daughter-in-law of Argentine poet Juan Gelman.

Uruguayan Judge Gustavo Mirabal - who recently extradited three Uruguayan military officers to Chile for their presumed role in the death of Eugenio Berrios, a chemist and former agent of the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship spirited away and slain to keep him from providing damning testimony about atrocities - will be in charge of these latest extradition proceedings at the lower-court level.

Argentine Ambassador to Uruguay Hernán Patiño Mayer told reporters, meanwhile, that the official request for the four detainees' extradition - as well as that of two other suspects, Ernesto Rama and Gilberto Vázquez - will be made Monday.

All are accused of having taken part in the abduction and murder of María Claudia García de Gelman in Uruguay in 1976.

The 19-year-old woman was initially detained in Buenos Aires by security forces on Aug. 24, 1976 - shortly after a military dictatorship came to power in Argentina - along with her husband, Juan Gelman's son, Marcelo Gelman, whose body was found in the capital shortly after he was taken into custody.

García de Gelman was 7-months pregnant when she was taken to Montevideo along with a group of Uruguayan detainees who were later released and confirmed that she was transported with them.

She gave birth in December 1976 to a girl who was found in March 2000 through DNA testing to be Juan Gelman's granddaughter.

After the delivery, García was "disappeared" and the girl was adopted by a childless Uruguayan couple, who were unaware of the child's background.

A 1986 law that provides amnesty for those accused of human rights violations during Uruguay's 1973-1985 military dictatorship is not applicable in this case because it is only enforceable within Uruguay.

President Tabaré Vázquez said he would back the Uruguayan courts' ruling on the extradition of the suspects, as he did in the decision to extradite the three military officers to Chile in the Berrios case.

In power from 1976-1983, the Argentine military regime is blamed for the capture and summary execution of between 10,000 and 30,000 suspected subversives, depending on the source.

Argentine courts have been moving to revive cases against agents of the military regime. Such prosecutions were derailed in the 1980s by amnesty laws, but those protections have recently been overturned by Congress and the country's highest tribunal.

[Source: EFE News Service, Montevideo, 06May06]

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