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Sun Sep 18, 2016, 12:08 AM

Argentina marks 10 years since disappearance of Dirty War trial star witness Jorge Julio López.

Ceremonies were held today in numerous Argentine cities to honor Jorge Julio López, the retired, soft-spoken bricklayer whose testimony was key in the 2006 conviction of former police inspector Miguel Etchecolatz for crimes against humanity during the Dirty War in the 1970s. López, who was 76 at the time, disappeared ten years ago today.

Prosecutors investigating López's disappearance have so far collated over five million phone records and examined the DNA of 98 John Doe bodies found between 2006 and 2015. The case, however, remains one of Argentina's most prominent unsolved mysteries.

López disappeared from his home in the the working-class suburb of Los Hornos, just south of La Plata, on September 18, 2006. His harrowing testimony was decisive in the trial against former Buenos Aires Provincial Police Chief Inspector Miguel Etchecolatz for crimes against humanity three decades earlier.

He was scheduled to give be the closing witness in Etchecolatz's trial at the First District Federal Court of La Plata the day of his disappearance, and was first noticed missing by his son. The court, headed by Judge Carlos Rozanski, sentenced Etchecolatz to life in prison the following day, September 19. He was only the second Dirty War defendant convicted following President Néstor Kirchner's signature of a bill rescinding amnesty for such perpetrators in 2003.

López's witness testimony was based on his experience as a political detainee between October 1976 and June 1979, during which time he was held without charges in three clandestine detention centers and repeatedly tortured. A bricklayer for many years, he was able to recognize at least two of his former places of captivity from masonry elements peculiar to each, even when some of them had been remodeled.

López's second disappearance was widely believed to have been carried out by former Provincial Police officers with ties to the dictatorship. Its intent, according to the governor at the time of the incident, Felipe Solá, was to “intimidate future witnesses or prevent their participation in other trials against dictatorship-era repressers.” A similar case, the murder of 84 year-old pianist Myrtha Raia days before was to testify in a case involving 41 former officers and 222 deaths, took place on January 29, 2013; all defendants were found guilty a year later.

“In those years it was inconceivable for us, in a democracy, to receive such a mafia-like message. One of such magnitude - the second disappearance of Jorge Julio López,” Judge Carlos Rozanski told the Buenos Aires Herald in an interview.

In sentencing Etchecolatz, Rozanski became the first judge to use the term “genocide” to describe the the crimes that took place under the fascist military dictatorship that ruled Argentine between 1976 and 1983. Around 300 secret detention centers were maintained nationwide, and an estimated 30,000 people were killed or disappeared in these between 1975 and 1979.

Etchecolatz, who responded directly to the Provincial Police Director Ramón Camps, managed at least 30 such detention centers. He was granted a transfer to house arrest by a La Plata tribunal on August 20 on account of his advanced age (87). The ruling has been appealed by plaintiffs - but not by the right-wing Mauricio Macri administration, whose Justice Minister, Germán Garavano, was revealed to have held secret talks with Argentina's most prominent Dirty War apologist, Cecilia Pando.

Etchecolatz remains unrepentant, and has since twice been photographed in court writing intimidating messages to witnesses in other trials. The messages read simply “Jorge Julio López.”

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/221716/jorge-julio-l%C3%B3pez-no-answers-10-years-on

And: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.infonews.com/nota/301716/a-diez-anos-la-justicia-no-tiene-pistas&prev=search

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Jorge Julio López[/center]

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