GUEST: Marie Trigona, member of Grupo Alavio, a Direct Action and Video Collective, correspondent for Free Speech Radio News, based in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Last Thursday, for the first time ever, a clergyman of the Catholic Church faced charges in connection with repression carried out under Argentina’s so-called “Dirty War.” Christian Von Wernich, a former police chaplain to the Buenos Aires provincial police force, stands accused of being involved in seven murders and 41 cases of kidnapping and torture. The crimes Von Wernich is accused of were committed during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship in Argentina. An estimated 30,000 people were killed during the military junta’s reign of terror. As his trial began, hundreds of human rights activists stood outside the courtroom in the city of La Plata to decry Von Wernich as a murderer. President Nestor Kirchner traveled to La Plata and said during a speech that Von Wernich “brought dishonor to the Church, to poor people and to human rights.” The accused clergyman refused to testify, or answer questions on the first day of trial. More than 100 witnesses, under tight security, are expected to testify against Christian Von Wernich.