Two life sentences handed in dictatorship-era trial

Retired policeman Juan Keller and former minister Jaime Lamont Smart were convicted for the 1978 murder of Horacio Orué and the kidnapping and torture of his family

The Federal Court #1 of La Plata handed down life sentences to retired policeman Juan Humberto Keller and former Buenos Aires Chief of Staff Jaime Lamont Smart on Thursday for crimes against humanity committed during the last civic-military dictatorship.

The case involved the murder of Horacio Wenceslao Orué and the kidnapping and torture of his entire family in 1978. 

The court also ruled that the #1 Police Precinct of Berazategui, in the Buenos Aires province, should be labeled as a former clandestine center of detention, torture, and extermination of the last civic-military dictatorship

On April 22, 1978, the Buenos Aires police kidnapped and tortured Orué’s brother Raúl Aguirre for information on his whereabouts. At the time, Orué was living in his aunt Marcelina Juani’s home with her two children, Marcelo, age 14, and Ariel, age 9.

That night, police agents raided Marcelina’s home in the Rafael Calzada district and murdered Orué when he tried to escape. Afterward, they threw Marcelina and her children in the back of a truck the police used to load and steal all of their belongings. With hoods over their heads, the three were taken to the Berazategui precinct, where they suffered inhumane treatment for four days before Marcelina was “legalized” as a detainee and her children were released to a neighbor.  

Smart, who was convicted as an indirect co-perpetrator, had already been convicted in other trials for crimes against humanity with hundreds of victims of kidnapping and torture. He was given house arrest in 2018, which he reportedly violated in 2022, but was nevertheless never revoked.

Keller, convicted as a direct co-perpetrator, hadn’t been tried for dictatorship-era crimes before, and this is his first conviction. 

Other defendants in the case, including infamous Buenos Aires Police’s Head of Investigations Miguel Osvaldo Etchecolatz and police officer Héctor Amado — identified as the main torturer of the Berazategui Police Precinct — passed away before the trial for this case began. 

You may also be interested in: Repressors sentenced to life in infamous ‘Casa de Belén’ case

—with information from Télam


All Right Reserved.  Buenos Aires Herald