Luis Alfredo Maurente Mata
Luis Alfredo Maurente Mata, alias “309” was born in Uruguay on 1 March 1947. He joined the army in 1966. Maurente has been accused and convicted for his involvement in the torture, forced disappearance and murder of Uruguayan leftist dissidents during the dictatorship of 1970-1980.
In 1976, Luis Maurente was amongst those responsible for the detention and torture of Uruguayan citizens at “Automotores Orletti”, a secret detention centre in Buenos Aires. He was personally involved in the illegal transfer of around fifty citizens. Around twenty of these were passengers of the so-called “second flight” of Orletti. Uruguayan dissidents seeking refuge in Argentina were detained and tortured at the centre and then illegally deported to Uruguay as part of Operation Condor.
Maurente and other military personnel responsible for these acts were protected by the so-called “Ley de Caducidad de la Pretension Punitiva del Estado” (Amnesty Law for Punitive Claims of the State), which gave immunity to members of the police and armed forces who violated human rights. This law was passed in 1986 by the first government in power since the restoration of democracy, and was ratified following two referendums in 1989 and 2009. The law has been the subject of much criticism due to the circumstances surrounding its ratification.
The amnesty law was reinterpreted under the administration of President Tabaré Vázquez (2005-2010), facilitating the prosecution of former members of the police and armed forces for crimes committed during the regime.
In September 2006, Luis Maurente was captured in Montevideo and arrested on charges of “deprivation of liberty” and “conspiracy to commit crimes” for the disappearance in 1976 of activists from the PVP (Partido urugayo izquierdista de la Victoria del Pueblo), a Uruguayan leftist party, who were refugees in Argentina.
In September 2006, Luis Maurente was captured in Montevideo and arrested on charges of “deprivation of liberty” and “conspiracy to commit crimes” for the disappearance in 1976 of activists from the PVP, a Uruguayan leftist party, who were refugees in Argentina.
On 26 March 2009, the Judge of First Instance of the Nineteenth Criminal Chamber found Luis Maurente guilty together with fellow army officers Ricardo Arab Fernández, Gilberto Vásquez, Ernesto Ramas Pereira and Jorge Silveira, and policemen Ricardo Medina and José Sande, of the death of 28 Uruguayans detained in Argentina, most of whom were members of the PVP (Partido por la Victoria del Pueblo). Maurente, Medina and Sande were sentenced to 20 years in prison, whilst fellow arm officers Gavazzo, Arab, Silveira, Ramas and Vázquez were sentenced to 25 years in prison.
On 4 February 2010, the Second Chamber of the Criminal Appeals Court upheld the decision.
In May 2011, the Supreme Court of Uruguay held by a majority verdict that the human rights violations committed by the last military dictatorship constituted crimes but not crimes against humanity. The ruling followed the request for clarification issued by the Uruguayan state prosecutor in relation to the judgment holding Maurente responsible along with other former police and military personnel for 28 “especially aggravated murders”.
The court dismissed the claims of the prosecution which alleged that Maurente and his co-defendants were guilty of crimes of “forced disappearance” which, they argued, were crimes against humanity. However, in 1976, at the time the events took place, the crime of forced disappearance did not exist in Uruguay, having only been created by a law in October 2006. As a result, the Court rejected the claims and instead held that the offence applicable to the case was that of “especially aggravated murder”.
SUMMARY OF THE FACTS
Upon accession to the presidency, in December 1967, of Jorge Pacheco Areco, Uruguay entered a long period of repression. In order to confront the social movements and trade unions due to the serious economic and social crisis in the country, security measures were voted and maintained durably, especially censorship and detention without charges. To repress the socialists and communists, the Pacheco government supported the death squadrons and the police started to make use of torture.
In November 1971, Juan María Bordaberry, supporter by Pacheco, won the elections and the army took so much importance that they gained significant control over Bordaberry after a coup in 1973. The military dictatorship dissolved the political parties, suspended the Constitution and put one out of 450 inhabitants of Uruguay in jail.
In In the years 1970, the Uruguayan government joined Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Chile and Bolivia, all governed by dictatorial regimes and all controlled by the CIA, to coordinate their efforts in order to eliminate political opponents, regularly subjecting them to torture. In that context of persecutions, violence was used in a systematical way to exterminate the “communist world”.
This plan, called “Operation Condor”, operated in three major ways: the activities of political monitoring of dissident political refugees and people in exile, secret counter-insurrectional actions and joint actions of extermination directed against specific groups or individuals, for which special teams of killers operating in and outside the borders were formed (also in Europe and the United States). The opponents were placed in clandestine detention centers. The military dictatorship only ended with the elections in 1984 and the liberation of political prisoners in 1985.
LAW OF EXPIRY ON PUNITIVE CLAIMS BY THE STATE
In 1986, in order to promote national reconciliation, president Sanguinetti approved the Law of expiry on punitive claims by the State, which grants amnesty de facto for all crimes committed by the military during the dictatorship and until 1985, any prosecution having to be approved by the executive. It is only under the presidency of Tabaré Vazquez (socialist), in 2005, that the executive started to authorize prosecutions against militaries involved in violations of human rights. Finally, on 27 October 2011, the Uruguayan Congress adopted a law that considers the crimes committed during the military rule as crimes against humanity and therefore imprescriptible and that eliminates the effects of the 1986 Amnesty Law.
COMMISSION FOR PEACE
In October 2000, president Jorge Battle created a Commission for Peace, which has no judicial power but can investigate and establish facts in its report, published in 2003. However, the Commission for Peace itself admits that its work was insufficient because it had to face the reluctance of the armed forces and of the police. A survey has shown that 80% of the persons aged 18 to 29 years old in Uruguay are unable to give the name of one dictator.