MIAMI ( Associated Press) – An Argentine ex-Marine facing trial in Miami for his alleged role in the execution of a group of political prisoners in Patagonia nearly 50 years ago admitted on Tuesday that he was among the soldiers who fired the shots. There was one and the one who ordered start shooting.
“I remember a lot of people coming to us,” said Roberto Guillermo Bravo, referring to the group of prisoners. “I said shoot twice… and I shot whatever moved and came towards us,” he said after explaining that he was the first to do so, about 30 bullets.
This was the first public statement under oath by former soldier Roberto Guillermo Bravo, accused of his alleged role in the execution of 19 political prisoners at a naval base in Trelev, southern Argentina in August 1972. this is the first time. Justice suffered because laws in his country forbid prosecution in absentia.
Bravo, 79, has been living in the United States since 1973 and has been a US citizen since 1987.
There is a civil suit in Miami seeking financial compensation for alleged damages caused to families by Bravo. It was presented in October 2020 by four relatives of the victims: Capello, Raquel Camp, Alicia Krueger and Marcela Santucho.
According to the complaint, the former Marine and other soldiers “shot dead 16 unarmed political prisoners and grievously wounded three others” who later disappeared and were subjected to torture in violation of international and United States law. and participated in additional executions. A seven-member jury will deliver the verdict at the end of the trial.
The massacre took place in Argentina, but the Law for the Protection of Victims of Torture allows legal action if the accused are in the United States.
Offering his statements, Ajay Krishnan, one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, interrogated Bravo; And then by his own defender, Steven Davis.
For most of his nearly three-hour testimony in English, he seemed calm, his voice steady. On several occasions he doubted and withdrew previous testimony presented before lawyers in 2021, and at times he said he did not remember the facts very well.
Shortly before Eduardo Cappello, one of the plaintiffs tried to explain that almost 50 years after the so-called “Trelev massacre” he and three other relatives of the 19 victims are still looking for Bravo, only one of the defendants. One who has not yet faced justice in his country was held liable for the damage caused by his alleged actions in extrajudicial killing.
“Definitely my uncle’s murder marked a before and after in my family,” said Capello, who bears the same name as his uncle. “Eduardo’s death was the beginning of a series of tragedies that included the disappearance of my father, my mother and my brother.”
Bravo’s defense alleges that many years have elapsed than is provided for by US law to be able to file this type of lawsuit. Capello and the plaintiffs say they were unable to file suit sooner for a variety of reasons, including fear of missing out and being killed in Argentina during the military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983, and that they didn’t know where Bravo was until 2008.
Argentine authorities sought Bravo’s extradition in 2009, but a Florida judge refused shortly thereafter. The second extradition request was submitted in 2019 and is still pending.
The massacre took place during the dictatorship of General Alejandro Lanuse. A few years earlier, the political force led by former President Juan Domingo Perón, leftist and guerrilla groups identified with Perónism, began to operate.
The victims belonged to guerrilla groups and had escaped from a penal prison a few days ago and were taken back. With the return of democracy in 1983, the survivors regained their freedom and told what had happened.
Argentine justice launched an investigation in 2005 after the repeal of amnesty laws protecting the military in 2003. Three other defendants were sentenced to life in their country: Luis Sosa, Emilio del Real and Carlos Marandino.
Bravo reported that he was having dinner at the naval base on the night of the massacre and had drunk about two glasses of wine when a sailor told him that the two guards guarding the cells were worried and wanted to see him.
Upon arriving at the cells, Sosa ordered the doors to be opened and the prisoners to come out and stand in line, Bravo said.
Sosa, Bravo reported, walked back and forth through the narrow corridor separating the cells and at one point fell to his knees. One of the prisoners, Mariano Pujadas, grabbed his gun and fired two shots, Bravo reported, so he ordered the shooting.
“Everything happened so fast that the only thing I remember was my adrenaline was at a very high level. I didn’t have time to think,” he said. “I had to stop it,” he said, explaining that the prisoners were proceeding to where he and the other soldiers were at the other end of the corridor.
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