The Italian government approved the extradition of former chaplain Franco Reverberi Boschi, accused of crimes against humanity during Argentina’s last dictatorship between 1976 and 1983. He will be tried for kidnapping, torture, and murder.
Argentina had requested the Bologna Appeals Court that Reverberi Boschi be extradited back to the country, a petition that was approved in July and has now been enforced by the Italian Justice Ministry.
The former chaplain fled to Italy in 2011 after survivors and victims’ family members started mentioning him when trials for crimes against humanity began in Mendoza province that year. He was actually born in Italy in 1937, but immigrated to Argentina with his family when he was still a child.
Reverberi Boschi was auxiliary chaplain of the military VIII Mountain Scouting Squad in San Rafael, Mendoza during the dictatorship. Survivors that were kidnapped and tortured at a clandestine detention center called La Departamental — located in the city’s court building — said Reverberi Boschi witnessed beatings and tortures there, and told the victims that they had to cooperate with the military.
Reverberi Boschi is being charged with the murder of political militant José Guillermo Berón, who remains disappeared. Former Army Lieutenant Mario Guillermo Ocampo was sentenced to life in prison on July 24 as a co-author of Berón’s murder.
The former chaplain is also being charged with torture against politically persecuted people, and for 10 cases of abusive kidnapping, aggravated for duration of over a month, violence and threats.
One of his victims testified that, while he was being tortured by military officers, the chaplain asked them to cooperate to achieve “spiritual relief.”
Another witness said that one time they briefly looked up while they were being beaten and saw Reverberi Boschi. A military officer kicked them in the face, saying “what are you looking at?” The person said they had recognized the chaplain because they were Catholic. Reverberi Boschi was dressed in military clothes that day, but most times he wore classical priest clothes and carried a Bible.
Although official records state that he started working with the Mountain Scouting Squad in 1980, witnesses’ testimonies place him as far back as 1976.
“The one who plugs in the cable or turns the radio on so that the screaming can’t be heard [from outside] is just as much of a torturer as the one that uses the picana (an electric machine used for electrical shock torture) on a victim’s genitals, or the one who advises them to talk to avoid torture. But when the one giving advice is also a priest that has authority over the other members of that torture system, coming and going from the detention center, it’s not just any torturer. He is a special kind of torturer,” the San Rafael prosecutor’s office said in 2021 when they petitioned his international capture and extradition.