Argentine 'Dirty War' officer found dead

A retired military officer accused of abducting babies during Argentina's 1976-1983 "dirty war" was killed by a gunshot to the head just days before he was to testify in court.

Argentine 'Dirty War' officer found dead

It was not immediately clear if the officer, Paul Navone, committed suicide or was murdered. Another former Argentine military official was apparently murdered during a separate trial two months ago.

Marina Barbagelata, a lawyer in the case against Navone, said his body was found on Monday at a military hotel in the central province of Cordoba.

"How this came about is being investigated to determine if it was a homicide or a suicide," Barbagelata told a local television station on Tuesday.

Argentina has revived in recent years human rights trials dating back to the military dictatorship, when between 11,000 and 30,000 suspected leftist dissidents were murdered.

Navone's death echoes that of former Coast Guard officer Hector Febres, whom investigators believe was poisoned to death in December, four days before a verdict in his trial on torture charges.

Navone was accused of involvement in the 1978 kidnapping of twins born to a political prisoner in a military hospital. Hundreds of babies were abducted during that period and given away in illicit adoptions.

"It's highly likely that there are people who could have felt threatened by Navone's testimony," Barbagelata said.

The president of Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, a group of women searching for their missing grandchildren, called for a full investigation into Navone's death.

"In the Febres case, it was clearly shown that he was killed with cyanide. His own comrades conspired to shut his mouth," Estela de Carlotto told Reuters.

"What mafia was involved in the appropriation of our grandchildren that each time one of them has to testify, he's killed to keep his mouth shut?" she said.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Şubat 2008, 18:35