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Argentine Judge Expands Rights Inquiry

November 3, 2006

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) _ An investigator focusing on abuses during Argentina’s Dirty War against dissidents has begun examining the tenure of former President Isabel Peron, officials said.

The development marks the first time that the wife of the late strongman Juan Peron has been mentioned by investigators in connection with the violence by the military junta that ousted her in 1976.

Investigating judge Raul Acosta’s expansion of the probe to include Isabel Peron was confirmed Thursday by Sergio Marinelli, government minister for Mendoza state, in an interview with Radio 10. Telephone calls by The Associated Press to Acosta’s office went unanswered.

Gustavo Gioldar, who commands the federal police in the Mendoza state city of San Rafael, said the investigating judge is seeking information ``about the actions of security forces in the period before the military regime.″

He said the judge has ordered police to determine Peron’s current whereabouts as well as the locations of several former Cabinet members.

Isabel Peron was sworn in as president in April 1974 after the death of her husband, the father of Argentina’s ruling political party who was elected president three times.

But she struggled to hold on to power as Argentina was wracked by violence from leftist guerrillas and counterreprisals by death squads.

Kidnappings and killings of suspected leftists before the 1976 coup that toppled her presidency are considered to be the precursor to the so-called Dirty War waged by the subsequent military regime. Thousands of dissidents were killed or disappeared before civilian rule was restored in 1983. Peron herself has remained in exile in Spain since 1981.

Mendoza Gov. Julio Cobo called the order ``a bit exaggerated″ and suggested the judge was trying to blame the abuses of the military on Isabel Peron.

A lawyer for Isabel Peron, Atilio Neira, told local television that ``you cannot make an accusation against a president 30 years later.″

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