ECCHR TRIAL MONITORING

BUENOS AIRES 2009/2010

Since December 2009, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) has been monitoring the on-going trials of former military officials in Argentinean federal courts. The defendants are charged with severe human rights violations committed under the military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983.
ECCHR General Secretary Wolfgang Kaleck is spokesperson and lawyer for the German organization "Coalition Against Impunity: Truth and Justice for the German disappeared in Argentina", founded in 1998. Wolfgang travelled with Berlin filmmaker Alexandra Weltz (Parkafilm) to Buenos Aires to report back in a Video Blog. Translation by Rachel Beddow and Diana Leca.

ARGENTINA AND INTERNATIONAL JURISDICTION

INTERVIEW WITH FORMER FEDERAL MINISTER HERTA DÄUBLER-GMELIN

Herta Däubler-Gmelin - Attorney, Dr. jur, Prof. h.c. (FU Berlin) discusses the prosecution of human rights abuses in the last decades, and today. A member of the German parliament from 1972 to 2009, Herta Däubler-Gmelin served most recently as the chairperson of the Committee for Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid (2005-2009). During her term as Federal Minister for Justice (1998-2002) the International Criminal Code was adopted.

THE DISAPPEARED WORKERS OF MERCEDES-BENZ

INTERVIEW WITH HÉCTOR RATTO AND ADRIAN GOMEZ

In the case against the secret detention center Campo de Mayo there are a striking number of victims with a trade unionist background. One of the 130 plaintiffs and witnesses is Héctor Ratto, a former trade union activist at Mercedes-Benz González Catán. Within the Mercedes plant there was a strong independent workers' council that campaigned for higher salaries and better working conditions. Ratto himself was arrested and tortured in August 1977. During this time, Ratto witnessed the illegal arrests and disappearances of some of his colleagues. These abductions often took place with the co-operation of managers from the corporation.

AN ARGENTINEAN STORY

INTERVIEW WITH MARIANELA GALLI

Marianela Galli is an activist from the human rights organization H.I.J.O.S. and a plaintiff in the Esma-trial. On 12 June 1977 Marianela and her family were abducted by the military in Buenos Aires. Marianela was kidnapped along with her father, the marine officer Mario Guillermo Galli, her mother, Patricia Teresa Flynn and her grandmother Felisa Wagner. Marianela was the sole family member to survive the experience.

THE CASE OF ELISABETH KÄSEMANN

THE TRIAL BEGINS: FEBRUARY 26TH 2010

On the 26th of February 2010, the hearing for victims of the Argentine detention camp "El Vesubio" began before the Fourth Circuit Federal Court in Buenos Aires. Charges filed against former members of the dictatorship include torture and murder. One of the victims, Elisabeth Käsemann, was a young German citizen who was living in Argentina when she was kidnapped on March 9th 1977.  Käsemann was held in the aforementioned detention camp and tortured. On May 24th of the same year, Käsemann was murdered with fifteen other detainees from the prison "Monte Grande". She was shot four times. In 1998 charges in the Käsemann case were filed in Germany. The complaint was brought by the Coalition against Impunity, a network of religious, human rights and legal organizations, including ECCHR.

"THE MILITARY REGIME DID NOT DO IT ALONE"

REPORTS FROM THE TRIAL

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel co-founded the German Coalition Against Impunity in 1998. He is the director of the Service for Peace and Justice (SERPAJ), an organization committed to furthering Human Rights through non-violent means.  Esquivel was kidnapped in 1977, during the military dictatorship. He was forcibly detained and tortured for a total of fourteen months. In 1980 he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work as one of the world's leading Human Rights activists. In the following interview, Esquivel talks about concrete strategies for Human Rights advocacy and emphasizes the role played by transnational corporations in the atrocities committed by the former dictatorship. He affirms our right to pursue truth and  justice for those lost through political action.

CAMPO DE MAYO

THE REPORT FROM THE TRIAL

Trial has begun on behalf of those imprisoned in the former military complex "Campo de Mayo". Only a handful of the several thousand victims who were secretly imprisoned and tortured at the facility survived the experience to share their story. On November 2nd of 2009, the trial began at the Federal Court of San Martín in the province Buenos Aires. It is one of the largest hearing in the history of the Agentine judicial system. Charges were filed for crimes that include illegal detention and imprisonment, torture and murder of union workers and employees. One of the 130 plaintiffs, Héctor Ratto was formerly employed at a Mercedes-Benz facility in Catán González, Buenos Aires. He testified that he witnessed the company's managers participate in the illegal detention and disappearance of some of his colleagues.

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPORTANCE OF GOING TO TRIAL

INTERVIEW WITH FABIANA ROUSSEAUX

Fabiana Rousseaux is the Human Rights Secretary of the Argentine Ministry of Justice, She is the director of a project that deals with the continuing impact of the military dictatorship on the present day community. In her work, she focuses on providing support for torture victims and their families. She offers psychological services which accompany witness testimony in court. The project supports comprehensive medical care for those victimized by the former Argentine government.

THE PRISON AND TORTURE CENTER ESMA

THE TRIAL BEGINS

The major proceedings of the case ("mega causa" - case 14.217/203) deal with those crimes allegedly committed at the prison and torture center the "Escuela Mecánica de la Armada" (ESMA) between March 24th 1976, and December 10th 1983. The trial began on December 11th 2009 in the Fifth Circuit Federal Court (Tribunal Oral Federal nº5) in Buenos Aires. There are 130 plaintiffs participating in the case.

MARCHA DE LA RESISTENCIA

PLAZA DE MAYO, December 10th 2009

For thirty-two years the Mothers of the Disappeared have demonstrated every December 10th in front of the presidential residence with photographs and other remembrances of the children, husbands and family members who lost their lives under the regime. The courage of these women and their dedication to the demonstration, even in the face of significant danger, has garnered international support for their cause. Some have even sacrificed their lives; the organization's founders Azucena Villaflor and Maria Bianco were abducted and murdered.

JUSTICE FOR THE VICTIMS

ARGENTINE HUMAN RIGHTS ATTORNEY RODOLFO YANZON

Rodolfo Yanzon has been the leading attorney for the German victims of torture and disappearances in Argentina for many years. He also represents many plaintiffs in all major cases against the former dictatorship. In November 2009, on the invitation of ECCHR, Yanzon gave the following interview in Brussels and Berlin.

THE LONG ROAD TO RECOVERY: THE ARGENTINE DICTATORSHIP TRIALS

GERMAN HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights organized an event with human rights lawyer and ECCHR secretary general Wolfgang Kaleck and Rodolfo Yanzon, the Argentine lawyer who represents the victims of the dictatorship. In this interview, they discuss the history of the case and report on the status of the ongoing trial against the Argentine military dictatorship.