In his latest agreement, the Supreme Court It was dispatched with a ruling that benefits two civilians who lent their fifth in Tandil to function as a clandestine center and there the Armed Forces took the labor lawyer Carlos Alberto Moreno in 1977, according to an oral court in 2012. Although the decision was made in agreement with his three male colleagues, the president of the highest court, Carlos Rosenkrantz, made a fiery defense of the brothers Emilio and Julio Méndez in a ruling that is presented as a new obstacle when it comes to reviewing the role of those who did not hold military rank or belonged to the security forces during the last dictatorship. Immediately after the ruling of the Court that referred the proceedings to the Federal Chamber of Cassation, the Méndezes requested his release from prison.
Carlos Moreno (see photo below) was a recognized labor lawyer from Olavarría, who defended the workers of the Loma Negra cement factory. He was kidnapped on April 29, 1977, almost at the door of his house and taken to a farm owned by the Méndez brothers, near one of the main entrances to Tandil. Moreno managed to escape four days later and reach the house of a neighboring family, but they recaptured him again and he was murdered. However, The episode quickly identified their place of captivity – a fifth that belonged to Emilio and Julio Méndez between 1972 and 2005–.
In 2012, the Federal Oral Court (TOF) of Mar del Plata sentenced three soldiers who were working in the Logistics Battalion I of Tandil and the Méndez brothers for the case of lawyer Moreno. A year later, Chamber IV of the Federal Cassation – formed then by Gustavo Hornos, Mariano Borinsky and Juan Carlos Gemignani – confirmed the sentence. Seven years later, the court said the casadores’ ruling was correct for the military but incorrect for civilians and, with strong criticism, forwarded it to the highest criminal court for review.
Although the solution is the same, there are two blocks in the Court: the one represented by Ricardo Lorenzetti, Juan Carlos Maqueda and Horacio Rosatti and, on the other, Rosenkrantz. The trio maintained that they were not getting to the bottom of the matter, but that the Cassation had not done a comprehensive review of the Mar del Plata TOF ruling. As they are aware of the impact that their decision would have, they said on several occasions that the validity of the duty to prosecute and punish all those responsible for the very serious human rights violations was ratified and that this duty includes civilians.
Rosenkrantz, on the other hand, was not so shy. He said bluntly that for him there is no evidence that directly supports that the Mendez were part of a criminal enterprise with the military who operated in the area and that the judges of Cassation had “dreamed up” to found this responsibility. “The fact that the Mendez were notorious individuals in their community and that one of them had a formal relationship with military personnel cannot change this conclusion,” said the Supreme President. The Mendez were, indeed, very important people in the area. Emilio was a commercial manager at Banco de Tandil and Julio was an administrator of important fields.
Rosenkrantz goes a little further and insists that it could not be proven that the Méndez farm functioned as a clandestine center for a case other than Moreno’s. However, he is unaware that the Mendez are on trial to be tried for four other cases of people who reported having been held captive in that place. The place as a space of terror was accredited from an inspection that was made after Moreno escaped in May 1977.
“We had an exemplary trial with all the force of the evidence,” says Matías Moreno, Carlos’ son and current undersecretary of Human Rights of the province of Buenos Aires. “It is a rude ruling and it worries that we have these representatives in one of the powers of the State. This Court represents a past stage and raises the imperative need to advance in judicial reform, “he adds in communication with Page 12.
The National Human Rights Secretariat, headed by Horacio Pietragalla, also joined in the criticism. “The Court again offers a message contrary to the need for the justice process for crimes against humanity in our country to deepen the prosecution of civil responsibilities”. In addition, it claimed that, beyond the declarations of the majority of the Court, it is necessary to go further and recognize the difficulties that exist when the accused are economic actors.
The emblem case that the Court has for corporate responsibility in State terrorism is the one that has Carlos Pedro Tadeo Blaquier, owner of the Ledesma mill, as the main defendant and for which Rosenkrantz was singled out for the delays. In that case, the Court must review a lack of merit that was issued in 2015 by Chamber IV of the Federal Cassation and that prevents progress with the Blaquier trial. Coincidentally on Wednesday, a day after the ruling in favor of the Méndez family, promoted by the media related to the supreme president as a watershed in the causes against humanity, that file was moved from the Rosenkrantz office to the criminal secretariat. Definitions are unlikely this year, as there will be no agreement next week, high court sources said, although on Monday the supreme will probably find out what Rosenkrantz wrote in the Blaquier case.
While the Mendez, who are under house arrest in Tandil, asked to be released from prison. Prosecutors Daniel Adler – who accused them in the trial for Moreno’s kidnapping – and Santiago Eyherabide, in charge of the Azul prosecutor’s office, already opposed. The final decision will be made by the TOF of Mar del Plata.