The Federal Oral Court 1 of La Plata sentenced life imprisonment to the repressor Miguel Etchecolatzwho is already purging another 8 life sentences, and former police officer Julio César Garachico for the kidnapping and torture of 7 people in the former clandestine center of Pozo Arana, including the bricklayer Jorge Julio López, and the murders of 4 of those victims, including Francisco López Muntaner, one of the students kidnapped in the episode known as The Night of the Pencils.
“Miguel Osvaldo Etchecolatz is sentenced to life imprisonment as co-author of the homicide qualified by treachery, for having been committed with the premeditated concurrence of two or more persons to the detriment of Norberto Rodas and Alejandro Sánchez; the illegitimate deprivation of liberty committed by public official, aggravated by repeated threats on two occasions and application of torments to Rodas and Sánchez,” said the president of the Court, Andrés Basso, when reading the verdict this afternoon.
Besides, ex-police officer Julio César Garachico was sentenced to life in prisonfor the murder of Patricia Dell Orto, Ambrosio De Marco and Norberto Rodas, and the unlawful deprivation of liberty and torture of Patricia Dell Orto, Ambrosio de Marco, Norberto Rodas, Alejandro Sánchez, Francisco López Muntaner, Guillermo Cano and Jorge Julio Lopez.
In this case, the Court rejected the request to revoke the residence that Garachico enjoys and maintained the benefit that the former police officer fulfills in his house in Mar del Plata, which aroused cries of rejection among the public that was present for the first time. in the living room.
“Common, perpetual and effective prison” began to shout those present, among whom was Rubén López, one of the sons of the bricklayer Jorge Julio López, and Emilio López Muntaner, brother of the student “Panchito” López Muntaner, kidnapped in the episode known as The Night of the Pencils, both victims in this trial.
The president of the Court could not continue with the reading before the cries of “justice, rubbish, you are the dictatorship; justice, rubbish, you are the dictatorship”, while the public left and continued shouting in the corridor, before which the The judge ordered the courtroom closed and continued to read the verdict only for the parties.
TOF 1 also gave rise to a series of reparatory measures requested by the prosecution and the complaints, among them that the Arana property be disaffected to turn it into a Site of Memory, investigate the possible complicity of the Peugeot company in the kidnapping of Alejandro Sánchez; a copy of the sentence be given to the Faculty of Fine Arts of La Plata so that it can pay homage to its former students Patricia Dell Orto and the student López Muntaner and excavations be carried out on the grounds of the former Estancia La Armonía, where today the 7th Regiment works in Search for possible mass graves.
The two defendants had shortly before had the right to make use of a few last words before hearing the verdict. In the case of Etchecolatz, the repressor is admitted to the “Estrada” sanatorium in Merlo due to a series of feverish episodes, dizziness and vomiting, for which the secretary of TOF 1, Verónica Michelli, went to the clinic to record those words.
“Etchecolatz said that he is innocent, that he did not do anything that is accused in this debate and that he understands that the process of the National Constitution has been violated,” reported the Secretary of the Court. The multiconvicted is currently accused in two other trials against humanity that are being carried out in the city of La Plata.
For its part, former police officer Julio César Garachico also said he was innocent, stating that “I am innocent of what I am accused of and I do not know the people who are on trial. I am accused of something that I have nothing to do with.”.
The trial that concluded today with a new conviction for genocide for Etchecolatz began on August 30, 2021 and sought to determine what happened to 7 people who in 1976 began to serve in the “Juan Pablo Maestra” basic unit and to carry out neighborhood activities on the outskirts from La Plata.
A large part of the evidentiary support was based especially on the four judicial statements made by Jorge Julio López before his second disappearance in 2006, and in that last statement López was heard to name Etchecolatz as the head of the kidnapping operation and Garachico as the person who gave the orders to the group of “picaneadores”.
Last April 11, the Federal Fiscal Unit for causes of human rights violations during the period of terrorism in the State of La Platamade up of Attorney General Gonzalo Miranda and assistant prosecutors, Juan Martín Nogueira and Ana Oberlin, had requested a life sentence for both repressors.
The son of Jorge Julio López repudiated that the ex-policeman Garachico continues with house arrest
Rubén López, the son of Jorge Julio López, the surviving bricklayer of the last military dictatorship who disappeared in 2006 after giving testimony against former repressor Miguel Etchecolatz who added his ninth life sentence for genocide, repudiated that former police officer Julio César Garachico, convicted today also in perpetuity keep the benefit of house arrest.
“One feels a lot of anger and disappointment. I feel evicted. It cannot be that I am still at home,” Rubén López told Télam this afternoon, who was present in the courtroom of the Federal Oral Court 1 of La Plata when the verdict was read. conviction for Etchecolatz and Garachico for the crimes committed in the Pozo de Arana.
The Court sentenced Etchecolatz and Garachico to life, but in the case of the latter, it did not accept the request of the lawsuits to revoke the domiciliary.
“In the room he was sitting next to the nephew and the daughter of Norberto Rodas and the daughter of Alejandro Sánchez and we could not believe it,” López explained, referring to two of the seven victims in this trial.
López maintained that “we had hopes that both would be convicted, but also that Garachico’s home would be taken away, whose health is not deteriorated and that today when making use of his last words he said that he was innocent and that he did not know any of the victims”.
In his 2006 statement, Jorge Julio López reported that he had been tortured by Etchecolatz in Arana and identified Garachico in that center as well.
“Etchecolatz was on one side and from there he ordered ‘come on, I went up a little more’ (referring to the cattle prod) and he said to me ‘Do you know me?’ It was a long time ago because it was with a battery. I felt tingling. “Now you are going to feel here, you are going to see,” López said on that occasion.
For some survivors, such as Pastor Asuaje, a militant who testified at the trial, former police officer Julio César Garachico “knows what happened to Jorge Julio López.”
Asked about it, Rubén said that “strange things happened after the disappearance of my old man. Garachico, who was in the south, disappeared for three years from all places and reappeared in Mar del Plata. I cannot say if at that time he was afraid that put him in prison for what my father declared, or if he had something to do” with the disappearance.
“This is a sentence that has historical importance because it consolidates a situation that has been taking place since 2006 with the Etchecolatz sentence for genocide and with the Camps Circuit trial, where it was shown how that repressive circuit was, how the police and the task groups in that circuit, Arana being one of the fundamental places where the repressive plan was carried out,” the assistant prosecutor, Juan Martín Nogueira, explained to Télam.
He stressed that in this trial it was possible to demonstrate once again the fundamental role that Etchecolatz had as General Director of Investigations by pointing out “his importance in the framework and the personal imprint in the generation and production of the events. He gave a personal nuance to the operation of the Circuit Camps”.
“The operation of the gangs is represented in Garachico, who had a position in the La Plata police and his intervention as a task force was demonstrated, taking his activity to Arana”, he pointed out and celebrated that the Court has made room for the reparatory measures requested.