Alfonsin Orders Arrests of 12 Accused of Violence
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) _ President Raul Alfonsin invoked special powers Tuesday to order six army officers and six civilians arrested for alleged involvement in a rightist campaign ″of violence against democratic institutions.″
Alfonsin’s decree was prompted by bombings, telephone threats and other acts he said were intended to create a feeling of ″terror and insecurity″ in Argentina, which was under military rule until his elected civilian government took office 22 months ago.
The arrest order was announced at 12:10 a.m., and another bomb went off in Buenos Aires about five hours later. Police said it damaged a guard post outside the army chief of staff’s offices but caused no injuries.
In the decree, which ordered the 12 suspects held for 60 days, Alfonsin said: ″The existence has been detected of a group of people acting in coordination with a goal of violence against democratic institutions and the people.″
He invoked powers provided in a section of the constitution that allows the president to declare a state of siege.
Interior Minister Antonio Troccoli said application of the powers in this special case did not imply a general state of siege, which ″would have meant a restriction of the individual rights of (Argentina’s) 30 million inhabitants.″ All the suspects are known rightists with links to the military regime that ruled Argentina from 1976 until Alfonsin’s center-left government came to power in December 1983.
Among those covered by the order is former Gen. Guillermo Suarez Mason, who was cashiered in 1984 when he fled the country to avoid prosecution on charges of fraud and human rights violations. His whereabouts were not known.
The other officers are two on active duty, Col. Pascual Guerrieri and Capt. Leopoldo Cao, and three who have retired - Maj. Jorge Granada, Col. Alejandro Arias Duval and Capt. Osvaldo Antinora.
The six civilians are Ernesto Rivanera Carles, Enrique Gilardo Novaro, Daniel Rodriguez, Jorge Vago, Alberto Camps and Rosendo Fraga.
Military spokesman said all the military suspects except Suarez Mason were in custody by noon. The six civilians initially were reported under arrest, but a police spokesman said later that only Rodriguez had been found.
Alfonsin’s decree referred to ″minority sectors, violent leftovers of past epochs that do not hesitate in renewing illegal methods ranging from intimidation to direct acts to create a climate of terror and insecurity in the population and a loss of confidence in the government.″
It said the campaign included bombings of military targets, to give the false impression that leftist terrorism had re-emerged in an effort to stir up trouble between the armed forces and civilians.
There have been 11 bombings in the past month, most of them in Buenos Aires. Several were directed at military offices, homes or public places frequented by the armed forces.
All occurred in the early morning and appeared designed to cause damage without casualties. A 26-year-old passerby was killed Oct. 3, however, by a bomb that went off at a Peronist Party office in the interior city of Cordoba.
Alfonsin accused the suspects of trying to create unrest in the armed forces over the trial of nine former military rulers charged with human rights violations.
The nine made up three successive juntas that governed after President Isabel Peron was overthrown in 1976 and are accused in connection with a harsh campaign to wipe out leftist subversion in the late 1970s.
Many retired and active military officers oppose the trial on grounds that the campaign, in which thousands of people disappeared and were presumed killed, was necessary to save the country from a leftist takeover.