Ricardo José Medina Blanco

27.04.2016 ( Last modified: 14.06.2016 )
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facts

Ricardo José Medina Blanco was born on 1 August 1948. He joined the police on 30 March 1966. In 1974, he became a Captain in the metropolitan guard (now the Infantry guard). In 1975, he went to United States to have classes about methods of instruction, and then he went back to Uruguay where worked, as from July 1976, at the National Directorate of Information and Intelligence. He was in charge of the custody of secret detention centers.

Medina participated in the Condor Plan, by which Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, all governed by dictatorial regimes, had decided to coordinate their efforts in order to eliminate political opponents, regularly subjecting them to torture. In that context of persecutions, violence was used in a systematical way to exterminate the “communist world”. The Condor Plan operated in three major ways: the activities of political monitoring of dissident political refugees and people in exile, secret counter-insurrectional actions and joint actions of extermination directed against specific groups or individuals, for which special teams of killers operating in and outside the borders were formed (also in Europe and the United States). The opponents were placed in clandestine detention centers, among which was the “Automotores Orletti” in Buenos Aires (Argentina).

On 2 July 2003, the Uruguayan Peace Commission accused Medina of having participated in the enforced disappearance of María Claudia García Iruretagoyena Casinelli de Gelman, a young 19 years old Uruguayan girl, daughter-in-law of the poet Juan Gelman. According to the Commission, she was abducted with her family on 24 August 1976 in Buenos Aires, and transferred to the center Automotores Orletti when she was seven months pregnant. Her family was released some days later but María Claudia García was transferred to Uruguay in October 1976. There, she was detained at the Defense Information Services (SID), apart from other detainees. At the end of October or the beginning of November, she was transferred to the military hospital, where she gave birth to a girl, María Macarena. At the end of December 1976, María Macarena was given to a policeman, who registered her as being his own daughter, and María Claudia García was killed. Medina was working at the SID at that moment and was suspected by the Peace Commission to have himself given the baby away and killed María Claudia García.

In the nineties, Medina went to live in San Jose, Costa Rica, where he was accused of falsification of Brazilian money in 1995.

On 19 June 2002, with the help of the Center of Legal and Social Studies, the families of Juan Gelman and María Claudia García brought a complaint against Medina and six other militaries: Jose Gavazzo, José Ricardo Arab Fernández, Gilberto Valentin Vázquez Bisio, Jorge Alberto Silveira Quesada, Luis Alfredo Maurente Mata and José Felipe Sande Lima. They accuse them of enforced disappearance or, failing that, aggravated killing. They also accuse them of abduction of minor and suppression of the identity of María Macarena.

legal procedure

PROCEEDINGS IN URUGUAY

On 19 June 2002, with the help of the Center of Legal and Social Studies, the families of Juan Gelman and María Claudia García brought a complaint against Medina and six other militaries: Jose Gavazzo, José Ricardo Arab Fernández, Gilberto Valentin Vázquez Bisio, Jorge Alberto Silveira Quesada, Luis Alfredo Maurente Mata and José Felipe Sande Lima. They accuse them of enforced disappearance or, failing that, aggravated killing. They also accuse them of abduction of minor and suppression of the identity of María Macarena.

From 2003 onwards, the proceeding were suspended and restarted repeatedly for various reasons, mainly linked with the Expiry Law (Ley de Caducidad) voted in 1986 and giving an amnesty to authors of violations of human rights committed during the military dictatorship in Uruguay, between 1973 and 1985. On 27 June 2005, a criminal tribunal of Montevideo restarts the proceedings after a decision of the executive power according to which the facts of the case could not benefit from the Expiry Law. Indeed, that law only covered acts committed for political reasons, while María Claudia García was not a political opponent and had only been sequestered for the purpose of abducting her daughter. Moreover, the facts had been partially committed in Argentina, country not covered by the Expiry Law.

On 8 May 2006, an Uruguayan judge ordered the detention on remand of Medina as well as of Ernesto Ramas Pereira, José Gavazzo, José Ricardo Arab Fernández, Jorge Silveira and Gilberto Rafecas, following an extradition request from Argentina in the framework of its proceedings in the case of the Condor Plan.

On 27 October 2011, the criminal court in Montevideo decided to indict him for the especially aggravated homicide of María Claudia García and for removal of a minor and revocation of civil status in the case of Macarena. The judge rejected the qualification of « Enforced Disappearance». Gavazzo, Arab and Vázquez Bisio were also indicted in this case.

Beside those proceedings about María Claudia García and her daughter, Medina was also indicted, on 11 September 2006, for his participation in a criminal association and the deprivation of liberty, in September 1976, of three members of the Uruguayan leftist party Victory of the People (PVP): Adalberto Waldemar Soba, Alberto Mechoso, Gerardo Gatti and Leon Duarte.

On 26 March 2009, the criminal judge 19 sentenced him to 20 years in prison as an author responsible for 28 crimes of especially aggravated homicide. The judge also sentenced Silveira Quesada, Vázquez Bisio and Ramas Pereira to 25 years and Maurente Mata, Medina Blanco and Sande Lima to 20 years in prison. On 1 July 2010, the Appeal Criminal Court 2 confirmed this sentence.

On 6 May 2011, the Supreme Court of Justice, following a request from Arab and Gavazzo, considered that at the material time, in 1976, the crime of enforced disappearance did not exist. Thus, the Court rejected the use of this notion, claiming that it only appeared in a law of October 2006.

On 27 July 2011, the Supreme Court of Justice confirmed the sentence against Medina Blanco.

PROCEEDINGS IN ARGENTINA

This case is also being investigated in Argentina, in the case of the Condor Plan, entitled « Videla Jorge Rafael and others for illegal deprivation of liberty ».

In May 2006, an Argentinian judge requests the extradition of Ricardo José Medina Blanco as well as Gilberto Vázquez, Jorge Silveira and Ernesto Ramas. The Uruguayan Supreme Court accepted that request in November 2008, ordering that they be extradited as soon as they will have served their sentence in Uruguay. It is the first time that Uruguay authorizes the extradition of militaries for violations of human rights committed during the dictatorship.

spotlight

Another proceeding took place in the case of María Claudia García, before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights against the Uruguayan State.

On 24 February 2011, the Court unanimously declared that Uruguay was responsible for the enforced disappearance and the violation of the rights to acknowledgement of juridical personality, to life, to personal integrity and to personal liberty of María Claudia García and for the violation of the rights to acknowledgement of juridical personality, life, personal integrity and personal liberty of María Macarena, constituting an enforced disappearance of the latter since her birth and until the recovery of her real identity.

The Court also declares that Uruguay is responsible for the violation of personal integrity and family life of Juan Gelman. It also condemns Uruguay for not having sufficiently investigated on the facts. As for the Expiry Law, the Court recalls that amnesty laws, provisions on prescription and the establishment of circumstances precluding wrongfulness having as a consequence to prevent any investigation and any punishment of the authors of serious violations of human rights such as torture, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances are inadmissible.

Thus, the court sentences Uruguay to put at the SID a commemorative plaque bearing the name of all its victims and to publicly acknowledge its international responsibility.

On 21 March 2012, President José Mujica publicly recognized the responsibility of Uruguay in the enforced disappearance of María Claudia García and the birth in captivity of Macarena. The state also recognized that the “Ley de Caducidad” represents an obstacle to justice.

context

Another proceeding took place in the case of María Claudia García, before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights against the Uruguayan State.

On 24 February 2011, the Court unanimously declared that Uruguay was responsible for the enforced disappearance and the violation of the rights to acknowledgement of juridical personality, to life, to personal integrity and to personal liberty of María Claudia García and for the violation of the rights to acknowledgement of juridical personality, life, personal integrity and personal liberty of María Macarena, constituting an enforced disappearance of the latter since her birth and until the recovery of her real identity.

The Court also declares that Uruguay is responsible for the violation of personal integrity and family life of Juan Gelman. It also condemns Uruguay for not having sufficiently investigated on the facts. As for the Expiry Law, the Court recalls that amnesty laws, provisions on prescription and the establishment of circumstances precluding wrongfulness having as a consequence to prevent any investigation and any punishment of the authors of serious violations of human rights such as torture, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances are inadmissible.

Thus, the court sentences Uruguay to put at the SID a commemorative plaque bearing the name of all its victims and to publicly acknowledge its international responsibility.

On 21 March 2012, President José Mujica publicly recognized the responsibility of Uruguay in the enforced disappearance of María Claudia García and the birth in captivity of Macarena. The state also recognized that the “Ley de Caducidad” represents an obstacle to justice.