The San Martin Federal Court #2 began a new trial today against former police chief Luis Abelardo Patti, who is charged with taking part in the murder of Peronist congressman Diego Muñiz Barreto and the attempted murder of his secretary Juan José Fernandez during the last civic-military dictatorship.
The Human Rights Secretariat is a plaintiff in the trial, which is being held online and streamed on the San Martin Court’s YouTube channel.
A member of the Group of the Eight — Peronist congressmen who cut ties with general Perón in 1974 — Muñiz Barreto was kidnapped alongside Fernández on February 16, 1977. They were both taken to a police station in Escobar, in Buenos Aires province, then transferred to the clandestine center of detention that operated in Campo de Mayo.
After two weeks in captivity, on March 6 they were taken to Entre Ríos province and thrown into the Paraná river inside a car, in an attempt to forge a road accident, according to the Human Rights Secretariat. Muñiz Barreto died at the scene, but Fernández was able to get out of the vehicle and escape.
Former police chief Patti was convicted in 2011 for the kidnapping and torture of Muñiz Barreto and Fernández in Escobar, but he was not tried for murder because he had been acquitted of that charge before the case went to trial.
“After an extended judicial process, the Supreme Court of Justice reversed that decision, so now he will have to answer for his responsibility in the murder,” said Secretariat sources.
During the dictatorship, Patti was the Chief of the Escobar Station of the Buenos Aires Police, from where he commanded operative groups of the Tigre Regional Unit.
Once in democracy, he worked in several police stations. After he retired, he went into politics with a hardline stance “based on repression and the iron fist,” according to sources in the Secretariat.
He was elected and served as mayor of that district in the northern Buenos Aires area between 1995 and 2003. He was then elected to Congress in 2005, but couldn’t take office because a large majority of the Lower House contested his appointment because of his actions during the dictatorship.
In 2008, a federal court formally requested that Congress impeach him, after which he was arrested for crimes against humanity.
Since then, he has been convicted in three different trials for severe violations of human rights during State terrorism, and received life sentences in all cases.
With information by Télam