Skip to comments.Argentina's Navy Admits Aberrant 'Dirty War' Acts
Posted on 03/03/2004 9:18:33 PM PST by yonif
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (Reuters) - Two decades after the fact, Argentina's Navy admitted for the first time on Wednesday the notorious Navy School of Mechanics was a torture center during the bloody 1976-83 military dictatorship. In a rare admission of guilt by Argentina's armed forces for atrocities during the junta's "Dirty War," Navy Chief Admiral Jorge Godoy said President Nestor Kirchner had ordered the infamous building dubbed "Argentina's Auschwitz" be handed over to be turned into a museum.
As many as 5,000 people were interrogated at the ESMA, as the building is known by its Spanish acronym, most tortured and later made to "disappear." Up to 30,000 people were killed or disappeared during the brutal dictatorship's war on suspected leftist opponents.
"(ESMA) was used to commit acts aberrant and offensive to human dignity, and ended up becoming a symbol of barbarism and irrationality," Godoy said during a ceremonial speech in Buenos Aires.
Argentines detained in the ESMA have described being electrocuted, beaten and left in squalid basement cells.
Kirchner, himself briefly detained under the dictatorship, has campaigned to lift amnesties protecting officials involved in rights abuses since he came to power last year.
He has also annulled a decree that prevented the extradition of Argentines suspected of human rights crimes during the military government.
Under the dictatorship, many government opponents were drugged and thrown from aircraft into the Atlantic Ocean. Military officials adopted babies of murdered mothers who gave birth in detention.
Germany issued an extradition request on Wednesday for ex junta leader Jorge Rafael Videla, bedridden ex-navy head Emilio Eduardo Massera -- who ran the ESMA -- and ex-general Guillermo Suarez Mason.
The trio are already detained and are wanted in connection with the deaths of German students during the dictatorships.