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May 27, 2017
Friday, May 19, 2017

2x1: courts reject requests as fallout continues

Supreme Court justice requests leave of absence ahead of court ruling next week

The fallout from the Supreme Court’s controversial ‘2x1’ ruling continued into this week as lower courts rejected requests for early release from those convicted of crimes against humanity and a justice from the nation’s highest tribunal requested a leave of absence.

On Monday, Justice Elena Highton de Nolasco — one of the three members of the court who voted in favour of applying the so-called ‘2x1’ rule to those convicted of crimes against humanity — requested an “official” leave of absence for a week. Although sources from the Supreme Court denied that the 74-year-old’s request had anything to do with the ruling, speculation raged throughout the week about possible changes in the make-up of the court.

Highton de Nolasco is set to return to work next Monday, ahead of a key ruling expected on Tuesday, May 23. Last week, the Supreme Court announced it would unify and evaluate all pending early release requests submitted by dozens of repressors in light of the new law passed by Congress declaring that the ‘2x1’ formula cannot be applied to those convicted of crimes against humanity.

Meanwhile, lower courts this week continued to reject requests for early release by some of the most infamous repressors convicted of crimes against humanity during the last military dictatorship (1976-1983). However, this still didn’t dissuade more human rights abusers from submitting requests throughout the week.

On Tuesday, the former Third Army Corps commander Luciano Benjamínn Menéndez, who has been sentenced to 14 life-term prison sentences, was the latest to request an early prison release. He was followed by convicted repressors Luis Gustavo Diedrichs and Mirta Graciela “La Cuca” Antón.

So far, one court alone, the Federal Oral Courthouse 1 of La Plata, has already rejected 10 early release requests, including those from former Buenos Aires province deputy police chief Miguel Etchecolatz and former military chaplain Christian Von Wernich.

Bishop defends 2x1 ruling

While much of the clergy had spoken out against the court’s ruling just after it was made, one cleric, La Plata Archbishop Héctor Aguer, came out in favour of reducing sentences for former military and civilians convicted of crimes against humanity this week.

“The ruling of the court completely follows the law, what is in play here is the Constitution’s principles,” said Aguer. He criticised the law passed in Congress to impede the release of those convicted of crimes against humanity, describing it as a “spasmodic reaction” and invalid. At the beginning of the year, the archbishop had caused controversy after he linked paedophilia and femicide to divorce.

Conservative lawyers association support 2x1

The conservative Buenos Aires City lawyers association (CACBA) also defended the Supreme Court 2x1 ruling on Wednesday. “It can’t be tolerated that there is an attempt to modify or undermine the will of the justices, compromising their independence, via criminal complaints or impeachments,” said CACBA in a press release.

This was in reaction to Prosecutor Guillermo Marijuán greenlighting a criminal complaint filed by lawyer and former City legislator Marcelo Parrilli against the three Supreme Court justices — Highton de Nolasco, Carlos Rosenkrantz and Horacio Rosatti — for “perverting the course of justice.” Judge Daniel Rafecas has yet to rule whether he will allow the case to go forward, only saying it was a “delicate situation.”

IACHR criticises ruling

The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) became the latest international organisation to publicly criticise the 2x1 ruling, expressing its “worries and dismay” about the decision which led to convicted criminal Luis Muiña being freed. The commission, whose representatives are currently in the country and are scheduled to hold a series of sessions in the capital next week, stressed that national governments have international obligations and must not let such crimes go unpunished, ensuring that the penalty is in direct proportion to the crime. The IACHR had received various criminal lawsuits from victims of crimes against humanity and constitutional experts requesting an injunction against the Supreme Court ruling.

—Herald Staff

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