Argentine military trials of 2009

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These were a series of military trials conducted in Argentina in 2009 to determine the validity of claims made against officers and NCO's by conscript and other soldiers for alleged brutality and misconduct during the 1982 Falklands War.

The first event involved accusations related to Argentine army officers and NCOs who were accused of handing out brutal field punishment to their troops after the Battle of Goose Green. Our own officers were our greatest enemies, says Ernesto Alonso, the president of CECIM, a veterans group founded by Rodolfo Carrizo and other conscripts of the 7th Regiment. They supplied themselves with whiskey from the pubs, but they weren't prepared for war. They disappeared when things got serious.[1] There are others who maintain that the conscripts were helped to make themselves as comfortable as possible under the circumstances[a] and tried hard to bolster morale.[2] and that their officers and NCOs fought well[b] and tried hard to bolster morale.[2]

In 2009, Argentine authorities in Comodoro Rivadavia ratified a decision made by authorities in Río Grande, Tierra del Fuego (which, according to Argentina, have authority over the islands) charging 70 officers and NCOs with inhumane treatment of conscript soldiers during the war.[3] We have testimony from 23 people about a soldier who was shot to death by a corporal, four other former combatants who starved to death, and at least 15 cases of conscripts who were staked out on the ground, Pablo Vassel, under-secretary of human rights in the province of Corrientes, told Inter Press Service News Agency.[4]

On 19 May a 12th Regiment conscript, Secundino Riquelme, reportedly died of heart failure after struggling for weeks to get accustomed to the cold weather, poor food and the bullying in his platoon that included fellow conscripts. Although his physical and mental collapse was evident, the other conscripts in his platoon failed to report this to the 12th Regimental medical officer, First Lieutenant Juan Adgigovich and the 12th Regiment chaplain who would regularly visit their positions.[c] There are claims, however, that false testimonies were used as evidence in accusing the Argentine officers and NCOs of abandonment and Vassel had to step down from his post as under-secretary of human rights of Corrientes in 2010.[5] Other veterans are sceptical about the veracity of the accusations with Colonel Martiniano Duarte, an ex-601 Commando Company officer in the Falklands, saying that it has become fashionable for ex-conscripts to now accuse their superiors of abandonment.[6]

Former conscript Fernando Cangiano of the 10th Armoured Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron that fought in the Falklands War, has also dismissed the claims about the supposed widespread sadism present among the Argentine officers and NCOs and the claim that the conscripts had not handled themselves well in the fighting.[7] Former conscript César Trejo of the 3rd Infantry Regiment that also fought in the defence of the Argentine stronghold of Port Stanley, also accused the current Argentine Ministry of Defense, Nilda Garré of promoting a state of confused politics in favour of the CECIM.[8]

Sub-Lieutenant Gustavo Malacalza is accused of handing out field punishment in his platoon in the form of having staked three conscripts at Goose Green, for having abandoned their positions to go looking for food and revealing their positions with gunfire. "We said it was going to be us next," said Private Mario Oscar Nuñez recalling the death of conscript Riquelme. Soon after the British landings, he and two other conscripts took the decision to kill a sheep. The three men were skinning the sheep when they were discovered by Sub-Lieutenant Malacalza, who was accompanied by fellow conscripts of A Company, 12th Regiment and given a beating. They started kicking and stamping on us. Finally came the staking.[9]

Notes and references

  1. ^ Not all the 12th Regiment conscripts experienced field punishments and some even came forward to praise Sub-Lieutenant Ernesto Peluffo, saying that he would break and share his loaf of bread and that he took his platoon out of Darwin Ridge prior to the fighting in order to allow his men to have a shower and relax in nearby Darwin Settlement.
  2. ^ According to Robert Bolia, "Criticism has also been leveled at lower ranking officers for not fighting with their men, although this seems to have little foundation, at least at Darwin and Goose Green where most, if not all, of the company-grade officers were in the trenches with their troops. Indeed, 1st Lieutenant Estevez was killed in action while defending the position near Darwin Hill, and 2nd Lieutenant Guillermo Aliaga and 2d Lieutenant Ernesto Peluffo were seriously wounded during the fight. In general, the officers in command of sections or companies performed valiantly in the action on the Darwin Isthmus." (The Battle of Darwin-Goose Green. Robert Bolia (Military Review; July/August 2005) p. 49.)
  3. ^ Another conscript to die under similar circumstances was Private Remigio Fernández of the 5th Regiment at Port Howard, who sank into deep depression, refusing to eat and despite attempts to feed him intravenously, he died on 10 June.
  1. ^ Argentina's Falklands War Veterans. 'Cannon Fodder in a War We Couldn't Win'. By Jens Glüsing,, 4 March 2007
  2. ^ a b 3 Para – Mount Longdon – The Bloodiest Battle. Elite Forces Operations Series. Page 55. By Jon Cooksey.
  3. ^ Confirman el juzgamiento por torturas en Malvinas (in Spanish), Clarín, Buenos Aires, 27 June 2009
  4. ^ Argentina: Soldiers Report Torture, Murder – By Superiors – in Malvinas. By Marcela Valente. IPS Archived 21 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Centro de Ex Soldados Combatientes en Malvinas de Corrientes Archived 7 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine. (in Spanish)
  6. ^ Categorized | Feature, Human Rights The Enemy Within: Investigating Torture In The Malvinas. By Marc Rogers.
  7. ^ Malvinas y el “Código de honor” (in Spanish) (Malvinas and the Code of honour). By Fernando Cangiano. Izquierda Nacional, febrero de 2002 (National Left, February 2002)
  8. ^ Críticas a Garré y respaldo para Bendini. Clarin Newspaper. 15 June 2007 (in Spanish)
  9. ^ "Falklands conscripts recall torture and death at hands of officers". The Times. 18 June 2009
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