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Repressor under house arrest because prison can’t afford his transport

Judge who convicted ex-military officer blasts ruling

Repressor Gustavo Alsina, who was sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity, was authorised to be put under house arrest after the Penitentiary Service said they didn’t have enough cars or money for taxis to take him for a medical check-up or to his mother’s house.

Alsina, whose nickname is El Estaqueador, is an ex-lieutenant known for torturing prisoners in the UP1 clandestine detention centre that existed in Córdoba province, by stretching them between stakes. “We all knew when el Estaqueador would arrive in the cell because he would come shouting,” said survivor Luis “Vittín” Baronetto. Alsina was sentenced to life in prison on December 22, 2010, along with former dictator Jorge Rafeal Videla, General Luciano Benjamín Menéndez and 28 repressors in the third crimes against humanity trial in Córdoba.

But the life in prison sentence given in Federal Oral Court only lasted until a few weeks ago, when he was authorised to be transferred from the Marcos Paz prison to his house in the Buenos Aires City suburban neighbourhood of Olivos. Federal Cassation Court judges Liliana Elena Cattuci and Eduardo Rafael Riggi had voted in favour of transferring Alsina to house arrest, with a dissenting vote by Ana María Figueroa.

In their March 8 resolution, Riggi and Catucci ruled in favour of Alsina’s request because he complained that the Penitentiary Service personnel weren’t able to transfer him on time to “his medical visits or his mother’s house.” According to his medical reports, Alsina suffers from hearing loss and has cardiological, and gastro-intestinal problems. Despite these claims, the Supreme Court’s Forensic medical expert said that none of these diseases should be a justification to be placed under house arrest since they only require a periodic medical control every six months.

Yet the judicial authorities stated in their ruling that the fact that the prisoners transfers coudn’t be conducted consistently, adequately and opportunely, is due to the penitentiary services’ lack of economic resources. They said that this caused Alsina to be subjected to “cruel, inhumane and degrading” treatment. The potential effects of this ruling could lead to a precedent that could be followed by other judicial authorities evaluating requests to be put under house arrest by other repressors. If the federal penitentiary doesn’t have automobiles to complete any of the transfers requested by a prisoner to a medical centre, even if the medical issue is minor, the prisoner could be transferred to house arrest — no matter the severity of their crimes.

Under this logic, a large percentage of the prison population in the country who haven’t committed crimes against humanity should also be permitted to be put under house arrest. The President of the Court that convicted him, Jaime Diaz Gavier expressed his disapproval after learning about the ruling. “This is an extremely serious incident, that the Cassation Court has resolved this case based on a reason that is absolutely trivial,” said Diaz Gavier.

— Herald Staff

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