Luis Sadi Pepa

25.08.2017
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Facts

Luis Sadi Pepa was born on 9 June 1926 in Paraná, Entre Rios province, Argentina.

In 1975, several South American governments, including Argentina’s government, launched ‘Operation Condor’, a secret military plan aimed at kidnapping and killing leftist dissidents.

From June 1976 and throughout 1977, Pepa served as Director of the Military Communication School within the military base ‘Campo de Mayo’, near Buenos Aires. In this role, he was in charge of executing anti-terrorism operations in the ‘área 420’ which included in its jurisdiction the municipality of San Isidro, Buenos Aires.

On 21 July 1976, Florencio Benítez Gómez, a member of the ‘Partito Peronista Auténtico’ closely linked with the guerrilla group ‘Montoneros’, was arrested by military in San Isidoro. His whereabouts are unknown since then.

On 2 August 1976, two members of the ‘Montoneros’, Silvia Meloni and Orlando Marino, were killed at a service station in San Isidro by police officers disguised in civilian clothes.

On 12 January 1977, two members of the ‘Montoneros’, Beatriz Recchia and Antonio Domingo García, were arrested by military in San Isidro and conducted to the secret detention centre named ‘El Campito’ within ‘Campo de Mayo’. Recchia was subjected to extreme violence. Her whereabouts are unknown since then. García was subjected to extreme violence and killed.

Legal Procedure

On 28 August 2009, the Argentinian Prosecution indicted Pepa, in relation to the incidents occurred in January 1977, as a principal perpetrator for:

  • illegal search;
  • two accusations of arbitrary deprivation of liberty aggravated by the prolonged use of violence and threats;
  • premeditated murder;
  • torture.

On 12 March 2013, the Federal Criminal Court of St Martin convicted Pepa as a principal perpetrator for the crime of torture and as a co-perpetrator for all remaining charges. Pepa was sentenced to life imprisonment.

In 2013, Pepa was charged together with other 16 co-accused with conspiracy to kidnap and assassinate leftist dissidents as part of a multinational criminal operation named ‘Operation Condor’.

On 5 March 2013, the trial against Pepa commenced.

On 27 May 2016, the Federal Criminal Court of Buenos Aires convicted Pepa of membership in a criminal organisation and of arbitrary deprivation of liberty in relation to Benitez Gomez’s arrest. He was sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment.

In early 2017, Pepa was charged with murder in relation to the service station killings.

On 11 July 2017, the trial against Pepa commenced before the Federal Criminal Court of San Martin.

Context

OPERATION CONDOR

‘Operation Condor’ was a secret plan adopted by the national armies of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil and Paraguay aimed at the persecution and killing of leftist dissidents, including political opponents, unionists and students.

The plan, which initially involved the creation of an anti-terrorism communications network, was ideated on 28 November 1975 in Santiago Chile, during the First Conference of National Intelligence Services and agreed upon by representatives of the intelligence of Argentina (Jorge Casas), Bolivia (Carlos Mena), Chile (Manuel Contreras Sepúlveda), Uruguay (José Fons) and Paraguay (Benito Guanes Serrano). Despite not signing the foundational document, Brazilian authorities later agreed on and participated to the plan.

Operation Condor rapidly morphed into a brutal program of abduction, torture and murder which contributed to the disappearance of an estimated 50,000 nationals from the six countries combined. The integrated operation focused on all citizens who were deemed a threat, with secret police indiscriminately disappearing both active leftist dissidents and common citizens who may have expressed discontent with regimes in power at the time.

Within the context of Operation Condor, the coordinated repression passed through different phases.
In the first, a centralized database was created on guerrilla movements, left-wing parties and groups, trade unionists, religious groups, liberal politicians and supposed enemies of the authoritarian regimes involved in the operation.
In the second, people considered political enemies at the regional level were identified and attacked.
In the third and final phase, operations were conducted to track down and eliminate persons located in other countries in the Americas and Europe.
Declassified documentation available shows that various US government agencies had early knowledge of the scope of the repressive coordination and did not make much effort to stop it until it had reached the third phase.

In 1999, criminal proceedings for facts related to Operation Condor were initiated by Argentinian prosecution after several complaints were filed by some of the victims. The trial involved 17 former military officials:
– Humberto José Ramón Lobaiza,
– Felipe Jorge Alespeiti,
– Bernardo José Menéndez,
– Antonio Vañek,
– Eduardo Samuel Delío,
– Federico Antonio Minicucci,
– Néstor Horacio Falcón,
– Eugenio Guañabens Perelló,
– Carlos Humberto Caggiano Tedesco,
– Carlos Horacio Tragant,
– Juan Avelino Rodríguez,
– Santiago Omar Riveros,
Reynaldo Benito Bignone,
– Luis Sadi Pepa,
– Rodolfo Emilio Feroglio,
– Enrique Braulio Olea, and
– Manuel Juan Cordero Piacentini.

All of them were accused of being part of a criminal conspiracy dedicated to the enforced disappearance of 105 people, among other crimes.

Separate proceedings involved Miguel Ángel Furci who was accused of illegally depriving the liberty of 67 people and torturing them while in captivity at the Automotores Orletti Clandestine Detention Center.

On 27 May 2016, Argentina’s Federal Tribunal No. 1 convicted all co-accused of conspiracy to forcibly disappear people, with the exceptions of Juan Avelino Rodríguez and Carlos Horacio Tragant who were acquitted. The court sentenced Santiago Omar Riveros and former Uruguayan military official Manuel Juan Cordero Piacentini to 25 years in prison. Reynaldo Benito Bignone and Rodolfo Emilio Feroglio to 20 years. Humberto José Ramón Lobaiza to 18 years. Antonio Vañek, Eugenio Guañabens Perelló and Enrique Braulio Olea to 13 years. Luis Sadi Pepa, Néstor Horacio Falcón, Eduardo Samuel Delío, Felipe Jorge Alespeiti and Carlos Humberto Caggiano Tedesco to 12 years. And Federico Antonio Minicucci was sentenced to 8 years in prison. All of the accused belonged to Argentina’s military forces with the exception of Cordero, who was extradited from Brazil for this trial.

In addition, the court sentenced Miguel Ángel Furci, a former Argentine intelligence agent, to 25 years in prison for being co-perpetrator of the crime of illegal deprivation of liberty, aggravated by violence and threats, committed against 67 people during their captivity in the clandestine detention center known as Automotores Orletti.

For the first time in history a court ruled that Operation Condor was a criminal conspiracy to forcibly disappear people across international borders.

Highlight

For the first time in history a court ruled that Operation Condor was a criminal conspiracy to forcibly disappear people across international borders.