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Alfonsin Tells Military Leaders Siege Declared To Restore ‘Normality’

October 29, 1985

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) _ President Raul Alfonsin told military leaders he declared a state of siege and ordered the arrest of 12 suspected subversives, including six army officers, to return the country to a ″climate of normality,″ a government spokesman said.

Those attending the unscheduled meeting Monday night at the presidential residence in the north suburb of Olivos included Defense Minister Roque Carranza, military chief of staff Gen. Teodoro Waldner, and the leaders of the army, navy and air force, said presidential spokesman Jose Ignacio Lopez.

According to Lopez, Alfonsin told the group he declared the state of siege Friday to ″restore the climate of normality that must reign and that had been upset by the wave of attacks and threats that have occurred.″

Alfonsin decreed the state of siege to ensure the arrest for 60 days of 12 alleged rightists accused of involvement in a campaign of small bombings and telephone threats. The government has charged the goal was to destroy confidence in the democratic government.

The 12 are believed to be closely linked to the military regime that ruled the country from 1976 until Alfonsin’s elected center-left government assumed power in December 1983.

Seven of the 12 were released over the weekend by judges who ruled they could not be held without proof of the allegations. The five others remained at large.

An appeals court overturned the lower judges’ decisions, saying proof was not needed during a state of siege, prompting lawyers for at least four of the accused to ask the nation’s Supreme Court on Monday to invalidate the state of siege.

There was no immediate indication when the court would rule.

Earlier Monday, Defense Secretary Jose Jaunarena declared as ″totally false″ local reports that the government had prepared a list of scores of military officials it planned to arrest on charges of anti-government activity.

Government officials contend that rightist extremists are trying to stir up unrest in the armed forces, known to be displeased with sharp cuts in military spending and with the trial of nine former military rulers accused of human rights abuse.

The trial is now in its sixth month and verdicts could come next month. It stemmed from the disappearance of 9,000 people in a harsh anti-leftist campaign under military rule in the late 1970′s.

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