US jury finds ex-Argentine officer responsible for massacre

MIAMI (AP) — A jury in Miami on Friday found a former Argentine naval officer responsible for a 1972 massacre of political prisoners in his homeland and ordered him to pay more than $20 million in damages to relatives of four of the victims.

The unanimous verdict of the seven jurors was returned against Roberto Guillermo Bravo, 79, who has lived in the United States since 1973.

The families filed a civil suit against Bravo under a US law that allows lawsuits against US residents for acts allegedly committed elsewhere.

Bravo remained calm as he heard the verdict in the courtroom, while two of the relatives listened in tears.

« I’m happy for them, » Bravo told The Associated Press as they left the courtroom.

He had been the only former Argentine military officer accused of participating in the so-called Trelew massacre who had not been brought to justice. Three other officers were convicted in Argentina and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Bravo and other military officers allegedly shot and killed 16 unarmed political prisoners and seriously injured three others at the Trelew military base in Patagonia in the early hours of August 22, 1972, according to the complaint filed in the US case.

The official version of events claimed that the political prisoners were killed in a shootout as they tried to escape, but after Argentina returned to democracy in 1973, the three survivors regained their freedom and told a different story. These three people were later kidnapped and murdered by the military after a 1976 coup that ushered in Argentina’s last military dictatorship.

The four complainants were 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 first three survivors.

The Associated Press


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