Another Army Unit Rebels for Six Hours
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) _ About 250 soldiers peacefully ended a six-hour mutiny Tuesday in the northern city of Salta after hundreds of civilians gathered outside the base to protest the uprising, officials reported.
It was the third army revolt in a week. The restive soldiers oppose the army’s leadership and demand amnesty for officers accused of torture and killing during the ″dirty war″ against suspected leftists conducted by military governments in the late 1970s.
Gov. Roberto Romero of Salta province said Tuesday evening: ″The military conflict initiated by engineers’ company C5 is totally over.″
The rebel leader, Maj. Jorge Duran, turned himself in, said Col. Ricardo Rodriguez Coronel. He did not say whether Duran was arrested.
The government said Tuesday that 19 top officers had quit or been fired since revolts at two other army camps, but President Raul Alfonsin denied the purge was part of a deal with the rebels.
Romero told the Rivadavia radio network the 250 officers and men of engineer company C5 revolted over the amnesty issue and the civilian president’s choice of Gen. Jose Dante Caridi as new army commander.
Romero said 600 people gathered outside the base gates, but no incidents were reported. In downtown Buenos Aires, 2,000 militant leftists protested Tuesday night in the front of Government House against the three recent army revolts.
The soldiers at Salta were in sympathy with an infantry brigade in Tucuman, where another uprising was reported Tuesday, Romero said.
The private Argentine news agency Diarios y Noticias had said the Regiment 19 camp at Tucuman was ″in a virtual state of rebellion.″ Col. Nestor Cassina of the Fifth Infantry Brigade in Tucuman requested retirement Tuesday and his application was accepted, the government news agency Telam reported.
But Gov. Fernando Riera of Tucuman province denied there was an uprising and said the infantry unit was ″absolutely normal.″
Salta is 1,000 miles northwest of Buenos Aires and Tucuman is 800 miles north of the capital.
Presidential spokesman Jose Ignacio Lopez said Tuesday night that no further problems had been reported in military camps across the country. ″The situation is absolutely normal,″ he said.
The Supreme Court, meanwhile, ended an extraordinary session late Tuesday and will meet again Wednesday to consider a possible change in the interpretation of a law that could exempt some officers accused of human rights abuses from prosecution.
If the interpretation of ″due obedience″ is adopted, charges pending against many of the 250 officers accused of human rights abuses during the military regime that ruled from 1976 until 1983 could be dropped.
The army has long sought such a ruling, on the basis that even if crimes were committed, the officers were acting under orders from their superiors.
Soldiers who mutinied last week demanded the dismissal of Gen. Hector Rios Erenu, then army commander, and amnesty for officers accused of human rights violations.
Rios Erenu ″voluntarily resigned″ his post Monday, the government said. Caridi, 56, was army inspector general before his appointment. Under Argentine army rules, Caridi’s appointment obligated two generals above him to retire: Gens. Jaime Mario Sanchez and Julian Perez Dorrego.
Seven other generals also have retired or been dismissed in connection with last week’s rebellions at a regimental camp at Cordoba, 440 miles northwest of Buenos Aires, and an infantry school at Campo de Mayo, which is just outside the capital and is Argentina’s largest army base.
Maj. Ernesto Barreiro was dismissed for leading the Cordoba rebellion. He escaped Friday, moments before the men surrendered, and is believed hiding with sympathizers.
Lt. Col. Aldo Rico, who led infantry school uprising at the Campo de Mayo, also was cashiered.
Gen. Antonino Fichera, the Third Army commander, resigned because of the revolt by Barreiro and 130 others at the Regiment 14 paratrooper camp in Cordoba. Barreiro fled to the camp last Wednesday rather than testify in a human rights case against him.
Also out are a colonel, six lieutenant colonels and a major who were accused of participating in the Campo de Mayo revolt. It ended Sunday when Alfonsin flew to the camp in a helicopter and persuaded the 150 rebels to surrender.
Other top officers replaced included Gen. Naldo Dasso, director of the Military Institutes Command at Campo de Mayo, and Lt. Col. Luis Polo, who was in charge of the Cordoba regiment.
Police said Tuesday they had found a bomb planted under the ground floor of a 23-story building in Buenos Aires where Barreiro had an apartment. Officers said an anonymous telephone caller tipped them off.
In Asuncion, Paraguay, the independent daily Ultima Hora quoted ″reliable sources″ as saying Barreiro had been there since the weekend. It did not elaborate.
Following the ″dirty war, military officers said the anti-leftist campaign was aimed at restoring order and they should not be prosecuted for it.
A government commission concluded that at least 9,000 people vanished, presumably killed, during nearly eight years of military rule that ended with Alfonsin’s inauguration in December 1983. Human rights groups say 30,000 is more accurate.
About 250 military officers face charges of human rights violations. Five members of former military juntas have been convicted and are serving prison sentences ranging from 4 1/2 years to life.