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12 Argentine Officers To Be Tried For Rights Abuses

February 28, 1987

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) _ A federal court on Friday ordered 10 navy officers, including four retired admirals, and two coast guardsmen to be held for trial on charges of human rights abuses.

The human rights violations allegedly occurred at a navy mechanics school in Buenos Aires during the ″dirty war″ in the 1970 by a series of military governments against suspected left-wing guerrillas.

Two other retired navy admirals and a captain still on active duty were released from custody on the condition that would appear if called by the court at a later date.

The announcement by Judge Andres D’Alessio, president of the six-man Federal Appeals Court, ended three days of hearings into charges involving the navy school, which allegedly was a secret center where suspected leftists were detained and tortured and some killed.

A government commission has documented 9,000 cases of peope who disappeared during the military campaign against leftists. Human rights groups claim at least 4,000 of the people who disappeared were picked up by squads operating out of the navy school.

The 15 navy and coast guard officers were notified of the court decision aboard the navy ship Bahia Paraiso where they had been held throughout the court hearing.

Ordered held for trial were retired admirals Oscar Montes, Humberto Barbussi, Manuel Garcia Tallada and Jose Jose Supisiche; retired commanders Jorge Acosta, Adolfo Donda, Antonio Pernitas and William Whamond; former Lt. Cdr. Carlos Capdevilla; Lt. Alfredo Astiz who is on active duty, and coast guardsmen Antonio Febre and Juan A. Azik.

Astiz has been accused in the disappearances of two French Roman Catholic nuns during a raid on a Buenos Aires church in 1977. The nuns, Alice Domon and Leonie Duquet, vanished while they were helping families of people who had disappeared after being picked up security forces.

Court officials did not say where the 12 defendants would be held while awaiting trial.

Ordered freed by the court pending a further investigation were retired admirals Antonio Vannek and Julio Torti and Capt. Luis D’Imperio who is on active duty.

The navy school cases are considered among the most sensitive now pending against military and security officers accused of human rights abuses during the military rule.

A new law that went into effect Monday bans the filing of new charges against the military personnel who ruled from a 1976 coup until democracy was restored with the election of a Congress and President Raul Alfonsin in 1983.

Alfonsin proposed the law, saying it was necessary for Argentina to put that violent era behind and resolve today’s pressing prolems, including a severe economic situation.

In addition to the navy school cases, another 120 officers face charges of human rights violations. The charges were filed before the Monday cutoff date.

Among the 120 are two former presidents in the military governments, generals Leopoldo Galtieri and Reinaldo Bignone. Both are accused of abuses allegedly committed when they commanded army bases.

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