Patricia Walsh: “Acosta should say where my father’s body is”

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Jorge “Tigre” Acosta, former intelligence chief of ESMA, delcared today at the trial for crimes committed on the military base, and admitted for the first time that there had been detainees at the School of Naval Mechanics, which operated as a clandestine detention centre during Argentina’s dictatorship.

rodolfo_walsh2Rodolfo Walsh was an Argentine journalist, writer, playwright and translator born in January 1927. He was a politically active member of the National Liberation Alliance, then he joined FAP and the Montoneros guerrilla.

On 25 March 1977, a day after his Open Letter from a Writer to the Military Board was dated, versions say that Rodolfo Walsh was walking near the intersection of avenues San Juan and Entre Rios, in the Buenos Aires capital, (according to researcher Natalia Vinelli “after mailing the first copies of Open Letter in a mailbox on Constitucion Square), when a group of soldiers from the School of Naval Mechanics ordered him to surrender. Walsh resisted the arrest holding the gun he carried and was mortally wounded.

The members of that group of soldiers are now on trial for abducting and killing the writer. According to the Chamber, the accused took other clandestine detainees in a car in order to identify Walsh. Ricardo Coquet, a survivor who testified before Judge Torres, reported that one of the accused, former officer Weber, proudly told him: “I shot Walsh down. The son of a bitch took cover behind a tree and defended himself with a 22. We shot him to death and he didn’t fall”.

According to statements by detainees who survived ESMA, Walsh’s body was later displayed to the other hostages.

His Open Letter to the Military Board was made into the film The AAA are the three weapons, produced by Film Group La Base, led by late director Raymundo Gleyzer.

On 26 October 2005, 12 soldiers were arrested, among whom was former marine officer Juan Carlos Rolon, implicated in the death of Rodolfo Walsh.

On 17 December 2007, federal judge Sergio Torres rose to trial the cause and charged with “unlawful deprivation of freedom, doubly aggravated by having abused their authority and the relevant aggravating for having been perpetrated with violence and threats” the following repressors: Alfredo Astiz, Jorge “Tigre” Acosta, Pablo García Velasco, Jorge Radice, Juan Carlos Rolón, Antonio Pernías, Julio César Coronel, Ernesto Frimon Weber y Carlos Orlando Generoso.

A tenth accused, former prefect Hector Antonio Febres, died hours before by taking cyanide, on facts which required investigation.

Rodolfo_Walsh3Patricia Walsh, daughter of the deceased, and complainant in the case, said that Acosta acknowledged that there had been missing people under his command, but he gave no specific information on identity,” adding: “I want him to say what they did with my father’s body and with his last story. According to the former lawmaker, there are several testimonies of detainees who read “John was going down the river” (Juan se iba por el río), his last story, whose text never appeared.

Walsh said: “Acosta said that my father was determined not to surrender. He speaks of something he understood my father thought, and it is difficult for el Tigre to know what my father’s thoughts actually were”.

She resumed Alfredo Astiz’s statements yesterday, “He said that the only ones who can judge are the military tribunals. Astiz understands that the only situation in which he would provide information is if there was a dictatorship again, because before a court of democracy he wouldn’t speak.

Agustín Chit, lawyer of Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, said: “On many occasions, even in recent times, he provided details of what happened in the ESMA, he admits his role as captain and chief of intelligence, but he points to the responsibility of his superiors.”

For Myriam Bregman, from the Professional Center for Human Rights, “his level of participation was so gross that it cannot be denied but he started asking that the superiors be present, that he be judged”.