Reportage. The Supreme Court of Cassation sentenced 14 former soldiers and leaders of the Chilean and Uruguayan dictatorships. This is the first major case in which a torturer from one of the South American dictatorships residing in our country is tried in Italy.

In a historic sentence, Italian court orders life sentences for Operation Condor torturers

In the early afternoon of July 9, in Rome, the judges of the Supreme Court of Cassation read out a historic sentence: the defendants in the Condor mega-trial were all sentenced to life imprisonment. The trial began in 2015 and concerned 43 Italian citizens who were victims of the bloody South American dictatorships of the 1970s.

The accused numbered 14, including former military personnel and higher-ups of the Chilean and Uruguayan military regimes, who have now been sentenced to life imprisonment by the Italian justice, among whom the former Uruguayan Navy rifleman Jorge Nestor Troccoli is particularly notorious. He fled to Italy when a trial against him began in Uruguay. He has been living in Italy since 2007 and has Italian citizenship. As of Friday, he had been in hospital for two days, so it was not yet possible to take him into custody.

This is the first major case in which a torturer from one of the South American dictatorships residing in our country is tried in Italy. It is an essential precedent for starting new trials against other persons accused of torture and murder during the South American dictatorships of the ‘70s, who now live in Italy.

Such as, for instance, Carlos Luis Malatto, a former Argentine lieutenant accused of kidnapping and torturing dozens of militants, who has been living in our country for over 10 years, and for whom a trial was authorized on May 26, 2020 by Minister of Justice Alfonso Bonafede.

Or Don Franco Reverberi, a priest and former military chaplain accused of taking part in the torture of several detainees in an Argentine extermination camp in the town of San Rafael. Reverberi is currently celebrating mass in Sorbolo, a small town in the province of Parma. Back in April, Argentina requested his extradition for the second time.

There was great emotion in the courtroom among the family members of the victims and their lawyers who have been pursuing the case for over seven years. Giancarlo Capaldo, the former prosecutor who first initiated the investigations to begin the trial, told il manifesto: “Today’s sentence is a very important milestone for Italy, a testimony of legal civilization that can serve as a lesson for all other countries. It is a historical achievement for Italy. It has been a long and difficult path to get to the sentence pronounced today, a path made possible by the incredible human-to-human collaboration that has developed among family members, survivors and lawyers.”

Andrea Speranzoni, one of the lawyers for the family members of the victims, was of the same opinion: “This sentence is very important both for Italy and for Latin America, because it establishes the guilt of defendants who have been guilty of atrocious and very serious crimes that have affected the history of an entire continent. Now we must make the most of the significance of this sentence, which has a deep meaning that concerns not only Italian, but also supranational justice.”

The sentence arrived on Thursday at the end of two intense days of hearings before the judges of the Court of Cassation in the Aula Magna in Rome. Throughout the day, there were statements by the lawyers of the families of the victims, followed by the defense lawyers of the defendants.

The last one to speak was Francesco Guzzo, attorney for former Uruguayan rifleman Jorge Nestor Troccoli, who said the accused “had been turned into a target.” The President of the Court, Maria Stefania di Tommasi, gave a curt reply: “The only ‘targets’ have been the victims in this trial, at whose statements we all shed a tear—you too, Atty. Guzzo, I’m sure of it.”

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