Ex-Argentine officer faces trial in Miami in massacre case

Jun 24, 2022, 3:18 AM | Updated: 3:34 pm

MIAMI (AP) — A former Argentine navy officer goes on trial Monday in Miami for his alleged role in a 1972 massacre of political prisoners in his homeland.

Roberto Guillermo Bravo, who has lived in the U.S. for decades, is the only former Argentine military officer accused of taking part in what is known as the Trelew Massacre who has yet to face justice. Three others were convicted in Argentina and given life sentences.

“For nearly 50 years, the families of the victims of the Trelew Massacre have been waiting for all its perpetrators to face accountability,” said Katerina Siefkas, a lawyer for the Center for Justice and Accountability, which is one of those representing the plaintiffs.

“Our clients seek the opportunity to present their story and to achieve the justice” that has long been denied to them,” she said.

Bravo long skirted trial in his homeland because Argentine law forbids anyone from being tried if they are not present. The U.S. rejected Argentina’s request to extradite Bravo in 2010, but he is now to undergo a civil trial brought under the Torture Victim Protection Act, a law that allows judicial action against residents of the United States for acts allegedly committed elsewhere.

More than a dozen witnesses are scheduled to testify in a U.S. federal courtroom about what happened at the Almirante Zar navy base in the Patagonian city of Trelew in August 1972.

Bravo and other former military officers allegedly shot to death 16 unarmed political prisoners and seriously wounded three others, according to the complaint presented in Miami federal court in October 2020. They also allegedly participated in torture and extrajudicial killings that violated both international and U.S. law.

The official version of events claimed the political prisoners had tried to escape, but after the return of democracy in 1973, the three survivors recovered their freedom and told a different story. Those three were later kidnapped and murdered by the military after a 1976 coup that ushered in Argentina’s last military dictatorship.

The four plaintiffs are relatives of Raquel Camps, Eduardo Cappello, Alicia Krueguer and Marcela Santucho. Krueguer, Cappello and Santucho were among those killed, while Camps was one of the three initial survivors.

Bravo left Argentina in 1973. He first worked as an Argentine military attache and after retiring stayed in the United States, where he became a citizen in 1987.

The civil trial that begins Monday seeks economic compensation for the damage that Bravo’s alleged role in the killings caused.

His lawyers contend the killings did not happen in a massacre but rather resulted from a shootout between military officers and a group of guerrillas who were trying to escape from prison.

Bravo “has always been an honest, contributing businessman with an untarnished record. He continues to forcefully deny these false allegations and he will vigorously defend this lawsuit and his honor,” Neal Sonnett said when the lawsuit was filed in 2020.

The incident took place under the dictatorship of Gen. Alejandro Lanusse at a time when left-leaning guerilla groups had started to operate Argentina. Human rights organizations say it set the stage for the extensive human rights violations that took place during Argentina’s last military dictatorship in 1976-1983.

Argentina’s judiciary started to formally investigate the Trelew killings after amnesty laws that had protected military officers were repealed in 2003.

Three other former military officers — Luis Sosa, Emilio Del Real and Carlos Marandino — were accused of taking part in the massacre with Bravo and were sentenced to life in prison.

The legal complaint filed by the plaintiffs in the U.S. case alleges Bravo threatened prisoners, tortured them, forced them to undress and simulated their execution.

It says that on Aug. 22, 1972, Bravo and three other military officers went into the prisoners’ cells while they were sleeping and ordered that they leave and form a line against a wall while looking toward the ground.

“Some fled back to their cells. Bravo and the other officers searched the cells for survivors to execute them,” the complaint says.

The plaintiffs say their goal is not financial.

“What they really want is for Mr. Bravo to return to Argentina and face trial,” said Ajay Krishnan at a law firm that also represents the plaintiffs. “But if they can’t obtain that, and they still have not been able to, they do what they have to do, which at this time is the trial.”


Rey reported from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

LA man among 3 killed in lightning strike near White House

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A 29-year-old Los Angeles bank executive was one of three people killed last week when lightning struck in a park across from the White House, his employer said. Brooks Lambertson, a vice president for City National Bank, was in Washington, D.C., on business when he was hit by lightning Thursday night […]
1 day ago
People watch a huge plume of smoke rise from the Matanzas supertanker base, as firefighters work to...
Associated Press

Firefighters battle big blaze at Cuba tank farm for 2nd day

HAVANA (AP) — Cuban firefighters were joined by special teams sent by Mexico and Venezuela on Sunday as they battled for a second day to control a fire blazing at a big oil tank farm in the western province of Matanzas. The blaze began Friday night when lightning struck a storage tank during a thunder […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

UK museum agrees to return looted Benin Bronzes to Nigeria

LONDON (AP) — A London museum agreed Sunday to return a collection of Benin Bronzes looted in the late 19th century from what is now Nigeria as cultural institutions throughout Britain come under pressure to repatriate artifacts acquired during the colonial era. The Horniman Museum and Gardens in southeast London said that it would transfer […]
1 day ago
Brazil's former president, who is running for reelection, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, left, appears ...
Associated Press

Problematic or perilous: Brazil’s environmental choice

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — One president of Brazil built a giant dam that wrought tremendous damage in the Amazon rainforest. He slashed the size of a protected area to accommodate land grabbers. He steered billions of dollars toward the land-hungry cattle industry. That president wasn’t Jair Bolsonaro, whose policies in the Brazilian Amazon are […]
1 day ago
This 2019 image provided by the FBI shows Stephen Marlow, a suspect wanted in Ohio in the shooting ...
Associated Press

Police: Suspect in slayings of 4 in Ohio arrested in Kansas

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — A suspect wanted in Ohio in the shooting deaths of four people, including a teenage girl, has been arrested in Kansas, authorities said. Police in Montgomery County’s Butler Township said late Saturday night that 39-year-old Stephen Marlow was taken into custody by local police in Lawrence, Kansas. Chief John Porter said […]
1 day ago
Indian policemen detain a Kashmiri Shiite Muslim for participating in a religious procession during...
Associated Press

Police break up Muslim gathering in Kashmir, dozens detained

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Police on Sunday detained dozens of people in Indian-controlled Kashmir as they dispersed Shiite Muslims who attempted to participate in processions marking the Muslim month of Muharram. Scores of Muslims defied severe security restrictions in parts of the main city of Srinagar and took to streets chanting religious slogans. The restrictions […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
Ex-Argentine officer faces trial in Miami in massacre case