Buenos Aires -- Protesters took to the streets in the capital and throughout Argentina, marking the one-year-anniversary of the disappearance of a key witness in the ongoing trial of convicted police official Miguel Etchecolatz.
The witness, Jorge Julio Lopez, had testified against the former police official, Mr. Etchecolatz, describing his torture who has been accused of torture, murder, illegal arrest and baby theft during the ‘Dirty War,” which lasted in Argentina from 1976-1983.
Previously charged with a 23-year prison sentence, and later remanded to house arrest under an amnesty agreement with convicted military officials given by former Argentine president Carlos Menem, in 2006, Etchecolatz was the first major official to be tried since the amnesty laws were repealed by President Kirchner.
Etchecolatz was, after a renewed trial that included over a hundred witnesses, sentenced to life in prison.
During the highly contentious trial, in which three judges and several witnesses were threatened, Lopez, a retired mason, went missing and notice of his whereabouts, including searches for his body, have been unsuccessful.
Protesters yesterday demanded his return, though many remain sceptical that he is still alive.
Public officials, including the governor of Buenos Aires province and President Kirchner, have repeatedly stated their concern for the missing Lopez and the broader implications his case has on the full recovery of Argentine democracy.
Graffiti asking “Where is Lopez?” abound on government buildings throughout the capital, along with the ubiquitous missing posters showing Lopez’s face, tacked to telephone polls and even on the back window of some police trucks. A 64,000 dollar reward has been offered for his safe return.
Tags: Jorge Julio Lopez , Disappeared , Argentina , Dirty War
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