Federico Antonio Minicucci

08.05.2016 ( Last modified: 07.06.2016 )
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facts

Federico Antonio Minicucci was born on 29 March 1932 in Buenos Aires. He is a former colonel in the Argentinian Army and former chief of the 3rd regiment of La Tablada.

The “Vesubio” was a clandestine detention centre in the city of La Tablada, La Matanza Partido, within the Greater Buenos Aires district in Argentina. It was established in 1975 before the coup d’état, when it was used by the “Triple A”, the Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance (Alianza Anticomunista Argentina), a far-right death squad that was founded in Argentina in 1973.

In 1976, the “Vesubio” was allegedly under the jurisdiction of the First Military Corps (I Cuerpo de Ejército) whose head was General Guillermo Suárez Mason. The Corps worked directly with the Centre for the Collection of Intelligence (Central de Reunión de Inteligencia – CRI) that operated in the hospital of the 3rd regiment in La Tablada. Minicucci was chief of this regiment during his time in the Argentinian Army.

The clandestine detention centre is believed to have been used to detain, interrogate and torture political enemies. Survivors such as Elena Alfaro and Ana Maria di Salvo later testified that electro-shocks and rape were, among others, used as methods of torture within the “Vesubio”. Of those disappeared for political reasons in Argentina during the military dictatorship, many are believed to have been executed in clandestine detention centres such as the “Vesubio”.

As chief of the regiment linked to the centre, Minicucci allegedly participated directly in the torture and illegal privation of liberty of at least 85 political prisoners at the “Vesubio”. Moreover, he is believed to have been responsible for 21 deaths that occurred at the centre.

The “Vesubio” stopped operating in 1978 when it was destroyed to prevent the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights from inspecting the location during a country visit. However, between 1976 and 1978, about 2500 people are believed to have been detained in the Vesubio detention centre.

For his role as co-author during the disappearance and torture of 204 people at the “Vesubio”, Minicucci was put on trial together with four co-defendants in 2010.

legal procedure

For his role in the disappearance and torture of 204 people at the “Vesubio”, Minicucci was put on trial together with four co-defendants in 2010. The case is commonly known as the “El Vesubio II” case. During a previous case known as “El Vesubio”, seven other accused were tried for crimes committed within the same detention centre.

On 22 July 2008, the Tribunal Oral Federal N°4 of Buenos Aires concluded its investigation on the crimes committed within the “El Vesubio” clandestine detention centre.

The trial against Minicucci charging him with cases of enforced disappearance commenced on 26 February 2010. A first resolution was delivered on 16 July 2010 ordering Minicucci’s placement into custody.

Four years later, on 20 February 2014, the Tribunal Oral Federal N°4 initiated the last phase of the trial against Minicucci, Gustavo Adolfo Cacivio, Jorge Raúl Crespi and Néstor Norberto Cendón, who were all tried for a different number of offences such as homicide, enforced disappearance and torture. Initially one of the accused, charges against Faustino José Svenicionis were dropped following his death at the beginning of the trial.

The Court dismissed the defence council’s legal argument saying that the alleged crimes had already prescribed as they happened over 30 years ago. Instead, the Court stated that the alleged actions constituted crimes against humanity under Article 75 Paragraph 22 of the National and Convention on the Imprescriptibility of War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity, making it impossible for the crimes to become time-barred.

Minicucci was found guilty of being the co-perpetrator criminally responsible for the crime of illegal deprivation of liberty committed by a public servant abusing his powers, aggravated by the use of violence and threat on 85 accounts. With regards to the charges of torture of political prisoners, Minicucci was also found guilty on 85 accounts. Finally, Minicucci was found guilty of homicide in 21 cases, for commission with malice.

On 19 December 2014, Minicucci was finally sentenced to life imprisonment with perpetual absolute disqualification from public office and service. The judges delivered the full sentences and their arguments on 26 March 2015.

context

In December 1986, the Argentinean Parliament adopted a law called “final point,” which set a statute of limitation of 60 days for offences against international law committed in Argentina.

In May 1987, Parliament approved a second amnesty law called “due obedience,” which exempted from trial all military subordinates who had obeyed orders. This left only about thirty high-ranked military officers to face prosecution. The only crimes not covered by this law – and for which subordinates could still be tried – was theft, rape and the kidnapping of children. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of this law in June 1987.

By December 1990 the first amnesty decrees were signed.

In all, 1195 members of the military who had participated in the junta received amnesty: 730 because of the “final point” law, 379 with the “due obedience” law, 49 declared by the Supreme Court and 42 by amnesty decrees.

In mid-August 2003, the new Argentinean president, Nestor Kirchner, had the amnesty laws repealed and the absence of statutes of limitation for crimes against humanity recognized.

Prosecutions of those involved in the junta once again became possible in Argentina.

Twenty former military personnel are being held in Argentina for crimes committed within the framework of the “Condor” plan. The total number of soldiers in detention and charged under Argentinean law for human rights violations amounts to 120 – to which should be added two Argentineans held in Spain. Some of these proceedings concern cases where children were forcibly taken away at birth from their mothers who had been imprisoned for political reasons. In the opinion of the judges, the amnesty law never covered this crime. (Source: Le Monde, January 5, 2005).

On 14 June 2005, the Argentinean Supreme Court declared the Amnesty Law unconstitutional, by 7 votes in favour, 1 against and 1 abstention,– “Ley de Punto Final”; Ley 23.492-  and the Due Obedience Law – “Ley de Obediencia debida”; Ley 23.521- sanctioned by President Alfonsin in 1987. The Court maintained that these laws violated article 75, paragraph 22 of the 1994 Argentinean Constitution, which gives constitutional status to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to the Genocide Convention, to the Torture Convention and to the Inter-American Convention, among others. According to the Court, following diverse decisions by the Inter-American Court and by other international bodies, the State has an obligation to investigate, prosecute and punish those who have committed violations of the right to life, to humane treatment or those who have engaged in disappearances, an obligation which cannot be limited or abolished by the enactment of an Amnesty or Due Obedience Laws as ruled by the Inter-American Court in the case of Barrios Altos v. Peru.

This historical decision allows the domestic or international investigation, prosecution and punishment of members of the military suspected to have taken part in the torture, disappearance and/or killings of more than 30,000 persons in Argentina between 1976 and 1983.

On 20 September 2006, during the course of the trial of Miguel Etchecolatz, the court for the town of La Plata used the term “genocide” for the crimes committed by the military dictatorship (1976-1983). It was the first time these crimes were qualified as genocide by a court, just like human rights organisations had long argued they should be. This legal qualification is now contained in the judgment against former police officer Etchecolatz, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for torture, murder and abduction of opponents of the regime.

The court emphasised that the crimes were committed in the context of a genocide campaign organised by the state. For future procedures against former members of the police force and the military, this view could be of crucial importance.