Argentine Dirty War Victims Cautiously Embrace Trials, Hope for More

Buenos Aires, Argentina - In July 1977, when Ana Maria Careaga was just sixteen years old, she was kidnapped off a major intersection in Buenos Aires by forces from Argentina's last dictatorship. She was taken to what she later found out was "Club Atletico," a torture center and secret prison in a federal police station just blocks from the bustling downtown. According to court documents, for three and a half months, she was savagely tortured - beaten, hung by her wrists and ankles, and electrocuted. According to Careaga's testimony in court documents, her guards continued to beat her even after she told them she was pregnant.

On Tuesday, November 24, more than 33 years after the dictatorship took power and forcibly disappeared between 9,000 and 30,000 citizens like Careaga in Argentina's "Dirty War," 15 defendants accused of operating the Atletico and two other secret prisons appeared in court.

The defendants, mostly retired police officials, have been charged on an array of counts against 181 victims, including kidnapping, torture and murder. All of the crimes took place between 1976 and 1979, the most repressive period during the dictatorship's rule, which lasted until 1983...

... Though her day in court has finally come, Careaga has mixed emotions. Twenty six years after the return of democracy, she says "now we can have justice." But, she is frustrated that the defendants have not been charged for the crimes committed against all their suspected victims. "There are a lot of people who were kidnapped, but they aren't judging ... these repressors [for these crimes]."...

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