1. This case concerns events that took place on January 23 and 24, 1989, at the barracks of the General Belgrano Mechanized Infantry Regiment No. 3 (RIM 3), located at La Tablada, Buenos Aires province, and the consequences ensuing from those events for 49 persons on whose behalf a complaint was filed with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter called the Commission). On January 23, 1989, 42 armed persons launched an attack on the aforementioned barracks. The attack precipitated a combat of approximately 30 hours duration between the attackers and Argentine military personnel which resulted in the deaths of 29 of the attackers and several State agents. / The RIM 3 barracks had an arsenal from which the attackers, after having entered the site, seized a number of weapons which they used to defend their positions.
2. Although democracy was restored in Argentina in December 1983 after almost eight years of military dictatorship, several uprisings involving the armed forces have occurred since then. Specifically, little over a month before the events at La Tablada, on December 12, 1988 a military uprising led by Colonel Mohamed Ali Seineldin took place in the Villa Martelli military base.
3. In their complaint, the
petitioners allege that, after the fighting at the base had ceased, State
agents participated in the summary execution of four of the captured
attackers, the disappearance of six others, and the torture of a number of
other captured attackers, which occurred both in the barracks and in police
facilities. Following the attack, five MTP members were arrested in an
area near the barracks, and two others turned themselves in voluntarily to the
authorities who detained them. According to the petition, these seven
persons were tortured physically and psychologically. The same persons,
members of the MTP, as well as thirteen attackers captured in the RIM 3
barracks at La Tablada on January 24, 1989, subsequently were tried and
convicted under Law 23.077, known as "Law for the Defense of
Democracy", in trial No. 231/89 "Abella, Juan Carlos y otros s/rebelión"
(hereinafter Abella) and given prison terms that ranged from 10 years
to life. In accordance with the provisions of the law, the trial began
before a court of second instance, the Cámara Federal de San Martín, which
handed down its sentence on October 5, 1989. The petitioners appealed this
ruling by means of a special appeal, which was rejected by the San Martín
Court. The defense then filed an appeal directly to the Supreme Court,
which dismissed it on March 17, 1992.
4. The petition also alleges that the authorities acted with the intention of covering up the violations committed by State agents. Specifically, the petitioners state that those violations were reported during the Abella proceedings, but were investigated separately in so-called "parallel proceedings". According to the petitioners, these "parallel proceedings" were not conducted in a serious or thorough manner, resulting in a lack of clear or conclusive information with respect to the violations alleged in connection with the events of January 23 and 24 at La Tablada.
B. EVENTS ALLEGED BY THE PETITIONERS
5. On September 14, 1992, Martha Francisca Fernández de Burgos and Eduardo Salerno filed a petition with the Commission against the Argentine Republic (hereinafter "the State" or "Argentina"), denouncing these and other crimes supposedly committed by State agents in connection with the events at the La Tablada base. Specifically, the petition alleges violations of Articles 4 (right to life), 5(1) (right to humane treatment), 7(5) (right to be tried within a reasonable time), 8 (judicial guarantees), 24 (right to equal protection), and 25 (right to judicial protection) of the American Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter "the American Convention").
i. The Victims
6. The petitioners' complaint was filed on behalf of 49 victims, whose names appear below, and which are subdivided based on legal and factual criteria as described in the complaint.
a. Sentenced to prison (20 persons)
Life: Claudia Beatriz Acosta, Miguel Angel Aguirre, Luis Alberto Díaz, Roberto Felicetti, Isabel Margarita Fernández de Mesutti, Gustavo Alberto Mesutti, José Alejandro Moreyra, Carlos Ernesto Motto, Sergio Manuel Paz, Luis Darío Ramos, Sebastián Joaquín Ramos, Claudio Néstor Rodríguez, and Claudio Omar Veiga.
20 years: Juan Antonio Puigjané.
15 years: Dora Esther Molina de Felicetti.
13 years: Miguel Angel Faldutti and Daniel Alberto Gabioud Almirón.
11 years: Juan Manuel Burgos and Cintia Alejandra Castro.
10 years: Juan Carlos Abella.
b. Disappeared (6 persons)
Carlos Alberto Burgos, José Alejandro Díaz, Juan Manuel Murúa, Iván Ruiz, Carlos Samojedny, and Roberto Sánchez.
c. Unlawfully executed (4 persons)
Berta Calvo, Francisco Provenzano, Pablo Martín Ramos, and Ricardo Veiga.
d. Dead (19 persons)
Eduardo Aguero, Oscar Allende, Ricardo Arjona, Julio Arroyo, Jorge Baños, Pablo Belli, Pedro Cabañas, José Luis Caldu, José Chebaia, Claudia Deleis, Félix Díaz, Roberto Vital Gaguine, Juan González Rabuggetti, Claudia Lareu, Horacio Luque, Miguel Angel Luque, Carlos Maldonado, Sergio Mamani, and Aldira Pereyra Nunes.
a. The attack and excessive use of force
7. The petitioners allege that the attack on RIM 3 was intended to abort a military coup d'etat. The petition starts the description of the events as follows:
8. The group, consisting of some 40 persons, broke into the barracks at approximately 6:30 a.m., by ramming through the gate in their vehicles. The petition clarifies:
...it is important to point out that the attackers used their personal vehicles, were carrying their personal identification papers and were using civilian weapons purchased in conformity with existing rules on this subject for acquisition.
9. The petition continues by stating that one group took over the barracks stockade, where several soldiers were found under arrest, and the rest of the group infiltrated the interior of the barracks. After a short time, the attackers were surrounded by approximately 3,500 police forces, who cordoned off the barracks, and subjected them to indiscriminate fire. Three hours after the attack had started, the attackers signaled their intention to surrender by waving white flags. The petitioners stated that, despite these efforts, the following occurred:
10. The petitioners allege that the State engaged in "bloody repression" to retake the RIM 3 barracks at La Tablada. They described this event as "unnecessary, without measure, disproportionate, inhumane, ethically indefensible, immoral and legally violative of all current legislation on this subject." They make the following points in the complaint:
a) The La Tablada facility was surrounded by civilian buildings;
b) Immediately after they entered the barracks, the attackers were surrounded by a police force totaling 3,500 members, who remained there until the army troops arrived at mid-morning on January 23, 1989;
c) The army troops were made up of special forces (commandos), supported by armored vehicles, tanks, heavy machine guns, mortars and heavy artillery;
d) The troops had air support from a group of helicopters;
e) White phosphorus or incendiary bombs were used;
f) The group of attackers consisted of approximately 40 persons, using common civilian weapons, who had given clear signals of surrender starting at 9:00 a.m. on the day of the attack;
g) At the time mentioned in the preceding sentence, the number of dead and wounded on both sides was still small.
11. The petition also contains several remarks about the "domestic legislative framework under which the recovery of the barracks should have occurred," as well as "repressive methodology." In connection with the second point, they mention the attackers' attempt to surrender which occurred at 9:00 a.m. on January 23, 1989:
12. In their communication of February 2, 1994, the petitioners state that all the material and human loss, including the deaths of the soldiers who were inside the headquarters:
13. A videotape submitted by petitioners to the Commission contains scenes of one part of the barracks where several persons were waving a white flag, followed by bomb explosions. The petitioners state in their communication of September 27, 1994, that the tape constitutes proof that the attackers had attempted to surrender during the morning of January 23, 1989.
14. The above mentioned video tape starts with a scene depicting explosions inside the RIM 3 barracks (they allege the explosives are napalm, or phosphorus bombs). In the following scene, an army instructor appears explaining that such explosives were never used in military uprisings; another instructor describes "marxist subversives" as persons without a fatherland, which would place them in a special category, worse than any other enemy. The petitioners explain that this is a part of the National Security Doctrine applied in Argentina during the most recent military dictatorship.
15. In other scenes of the videotape, some persons are seen inside a military base waving a white flag. According to the petitioners, this constitutes proof that the surrender attempts began on the first day of the attack, and that it refutes General Arrillaga's statement that it happened on the second day. The same military officer said that tear gas was not available to him at the time, but another part of the videotape shows a policeman with a large quantity of that very element.
16. The petitioners charge the violation by State agents of a number of rules of international humanitarian law during the recapture of the RIM 3 barracks. In this regard they mention the Teheran International Conference on Human Rights of May, 1968, which requested the United Nations General Assembly to enforce compliance with humanitarian rules of conduct in all armed conflicts. That conference also proposed a revision of the current rules to guarantee better protection of civilians, prisoners and participants in armed conflicts, and to proscribe the use of certain methods and means of warfare. Likewise, the petition refers to the 1970 Human Rights Congress at San Remo, Italy, which decided to create a special institute to study the best means of protecting human rights during armed conflicts.
17. The complaint continues by explaining the role played by the International Committee of the Red Cross between 1971 and 1976 to complete and develop the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which resulted in the approval of additional protocols relating to international armed conflicts and non-international conflicts. In 1980, a general convention on the use of certain weapons was adopted along with three protocols which banned the use of devices capable of slaughtering civilians and, in particular, restricted the use of fire bomb weapons, which, according to petitioners, appear to have been used in the recovery of the La Tablada barracks. Continuing their examination, the petitioners refer to legal doctrine developed by professors J. Pictet and Igor Blischenko relating to the observance of human rights and individual liberties during an armed conflict, as well as the restriction on and prohibition of the use of certain weapons. The complaint notes:
18. The complaint quotes the words of General Arrillaga who defined the opponent as "...the permanent enemy, in all times and in all places." According to the petitioners, this concept is the same as the definition of "subversive" contained in the Doctrine of National Security followed by Latin American armed forces during preceding decades. This same military officer, according to the petition, appears to have stated in the trial that he used fire bomb projectiles because "...fire brings both vermin and subversives out of their holes."
b. Surrender of the attackers and later events
19. The surrender of the attackers took place on January 24, 1989, at 9:00 a.m.. The thirteen persons arrested in the barracks were Miguel Angel Aguirre, Luis Alberto Díaz, Roberto Felicetti, Isabel Margarita Fernández, Gustavo Alberto Mesutti, José Moreyra, Carlos Ernesto Motto, Sergio Manuel Paz, Luis Darío Ramos, Sebastián Joaquín Ramos, Carlos Néstor Rodríguez, Claudio Omar Veiga and Claudia Acosta.
Torture, illegal executions and disappearances
20. According to the testimony of Sergio Paz, Miguel Aguirre, Claudio Rodríguez and Sebastián Ramos, all of whom stood trial in the Abella case, Francisco Provenzano was still alive at the time of the surrender. In effect, their testimony indicates that Provenzano, Luis Díaz, Carlos Motto and Claudio Veiga went out the back door of the building. "When they were told to give up and they saw their partners, Carlos Samojedny and I came out, both of us wounded but not seriously" (testimony of Roberto Felicetti). After the surrender all were taken down a road flanked by trees; they were searched for weapons, their papers were taken away, they were stripped and had hoods put over their heads. Some had their feet tied, others had their hands tied, and still others had both hands and feet tied. All of them were kicked and punched. Felicetti had his right arm broken. All of them were placed face down on the ground. Several saw Francisco Provenzano when he was naked, beaten and put with the others.
21. The group of persons who surrendered were later taken to some place within the barracks where they were held naked, hooded and face down on the ground. The prisoners allege that they were subjected to an ideological interrogation, accompanied by physical and psychological torture by their military captors, under the orders of an officer who said: "I tell you that I am God and I decide who lives and who dies." They were read a statement which indicated that the wounds they had suffered were the result of the combat. They were shown a list of thirteen names which, they noted, did not include Francisco Provenzano, Berta Calvo and Carlos Samojedny. The bodies of Provenzano and Calvo were later identified by family members, but Samojedny remains missing.
22. Carlos Ernesto Motto and Claudio Omar Veiga, both of whom stood trial and were convicted, mentioned the capture of Provenzano in their statements to investigative judge Gerardo Larrambebere. Motto stated that Provenzano had surrendered while still alive, but a soldier later told him that Provenzano had escaped. Veiga, in turn, stated that he had seen Provenzano surrounded by soldiers and then heard a shot fired by a pistol with a silencer. Provenzano's family identified his body by scars from a back operation. The complaint states that the body "...had the viscera out and appendages in parts as if it had been blown up by a bomb."
23. According to the petitioners, at the time of the surrender, Berta Calvo, one of the MTP members who had participated in the attack, was still alive. A non-commissioned officer had requested a stretcher to move her. The petition states:
24. According to the petitioners, there is testimony that Carlos Samojedny was captured while alive and beaten after he identified himself. The testimony states that one of the torturers said that he had been following his "career" for some time and that he was happy to meet up with him. The testimony of the petitioners indicated that after some heavy blows, Samojedny passed out. At this time he is among the missing.
25. The petitioners charge that the alleged unlawful executions of Carlos Alberto Burgos, Roberto Sánchez, Iván Ruiz and José Díaz took place in the barracks stockade:
26. During the Abella trial, when Lieutenant Nacelli was shown the film and the pictures, he acknowledged that he was the person who was in the film and in the photographs that showed the detention of Ruiz and Díaz. Nacelli also stated that both were turned over to a corporal named Steigman, who in his statement identified himself as the person in the picture conducting Ruiz and Díaz at gun point to the interior of the barracks. Steigman stated that he turned the prisoners over to Major Varando and Major Varando, in turn, stated that he had put them, without guard, in an ambulance under the care of a non-commissioned officer named Esquivel. Since the latter appears on the list of soldiers killed in the confrontation, Varando assumes that Ruiz and Díaz escaped. This presumption was accepted by the court authorities who issued an arrest warrant for the two of them. The petitioners state that Iván Ruiz and José Alejandro Díaz are among the disappeared persons.
27. The complaint states that Roberto Sánchez and Carlos Alberto Burgos are also among the disappeared. In this regard the account states:
28. Pablo Martín Ramos also appears to have been unlawfully executed, according to the petitioners. A photo of him with his hands up, in the custody of a soldier, was published by several Argentine and foreign press media. The petition states that the appearance of his body with eight bullet wounds in it, as well as one in the head, was a disturbing sight for the public. When Joaquín Ramos stated in the trial that his brother Pablo had been arrested still alive and then murdered, he was threatened with expulsion from the courtroom by the president of the tribunal, since such an event was not part of the subject of the trial.
29. With respect to Juan Manuel Murúa, the complaint states that he was in a part of the barracks known as Company B, which was the target of cannon fire on the afternoon of January 23, 1989. Roberto Felicetti, who was in the place at that time, stated that he had jumped out of that area to escape the collapse of the upper floor along with Claudia Lareu (later killed in combat) and Carlos Samojedny (later disappeared). Murúa and Juan Vital Gaguine could not get out. The immediately following events, as well as the outcome, are described by the petitioners as follows:
Treatment of survivors after surrender
30. The events after the surrender are reported as follows:
31. The prisoners in the group who had the most serious wounds were transferred to the Ramos Mejía hospital to be cared for. The petitioners alleged that they were tortured again in the cell block of the hospital; Joaquín Sebastián Ramos was treated without his handcuffs even being removed. The doctor told him that he would like to make him talk "by sticking a hot poker up his anus." And the police officer said "...I don't know why we are wasting our time with these guys. If they had killed them, we would not be bothered with them now."
32. The prisoners were moved in different groups and on different days to the courts, usually with hoods over their heads and handcuffed, during which time they were beaten and threatened. The complaint states:
33. At 7:00 p.m. on January 23, 1989, Juan Carlos Abella, Juan Manuel Burgos, Dora Molina de Felicetti, Miguel Angel Faldutti and Daniel Gabioud Almirón were arrested some 20 blocks from the La Tablada barracks. All of them were taken to the San Alberto police station, in Buenos Aires province. The prisoners alleged that they were thrown to the floor there, and handcuffed with their hands behind their backs. This resulted in a sprain in Abella's left arm. With insults and threats, they were beaten and kicked while on the floor. After this, they were injected with a substance that numbed them and produced a loss of sense of time. This was followed by an ideological interrogation, accompanied by threats and blows. The complaint also states that at this time Abella was subjected to several feigned shootings.
34. On Tuesday the 24th, the five arrested persons were recorded as "detained to determine information," and were forced to sign a paper advising them that they were at the disposal of Federal Judge Larrambebere, as accused persons who were being held incommunicado. According to the petition, none of them had any criminal record, and they were a considerable distance from the barracks when they were arrested. Accordingly, the only reason to deprive them of their freedom was their membership in the MTP, a lawful organization.
35. The complaint continues to relate that, between 7 and 8 a.m. on the same day, the prisoners were moved to different police stations in Buenos Aires province, and were punched and threatened once again. Dora Molina was insulted for being a woman, and was tortured psychologically. All of them were deprived of food during their time at the police stations. Daniel Gabioud Almirón and Juan Carlos Abella were not given food until Friday the 27th of January.
36. Friar Antonio Puigjané, a priest and a leader of the MTP, appeared before the judge on Monday, January 30, 1989, who ordered him held incommunicado. Puigjané was moved to the federal police station located in the court building where, according to the petition, the following occurred:
37. On that same day, Cintia Alejandra Castro appeared voluntarily at the federal court. The complaint indicates that she was subjected to an ideological interrogation of the same type as the others. The complaint states that, "She was standing around the barracks for a short time just looking, thinking that this was a military coup in progress," and charges that her companion, Carlos Samojedny, disappeared without a trace. She was arrested on the same charges as Puigjané.
c. The Abella trial
38. The petitioners argue that the State not only erred in its obligation to investigate but also acted to keep the facts as they actually occurred from coming to light in the Abella trial. The complaint also charges that the State did not comply with its obligation under Article 1.1 in view of the discriminatory treatment given to prisoners on the grounds of political position, or ideology, as in the case of Father Puigjané, who is an advocate of liberation theology.
39. The complaint states that the competent federal judge appeared at the barracks at 11:30 a.m. on January 24, 1989. The complainants believe that his presence was necessary to gather evidence and to verify facts, but his performance was "lamentable":
This judge confined himself to a kind of "guided tour" in which he saw what the army showed him, walked where the army allowed him to walk, and also allowed the army to gather weapons, equipment and other materials.
40. The petitioners referred to the "abdication of jurisdictional responsibility" by the judge by not supervising the collection and handling of evidence at the scene. They question that certain materials presumably found in the barracks, according to the army, actually belonged to the attackers. The complaint argues that by characterizing the events as a rebellion, a "circumscription of the proceeding's purpose" occurred, since the information pertaining to all the deaths and wounds suffered by the attackers was removed from the file. The complainants state, "...it became clearly necessary to not investigate what the army had done." They clarified, however, that:
41. The petitioners maintained that the defendants in the Abella case were not tried by their natural judges. The trial was conducted under a one-instance system ("sistema de instancia única") established by Law 23007, adopted August 9, 1984. The Law of Defense of Democracy, as it is called, creates a special criminal procedure for acts of violence against the constitutional order and the democratic way of life. The law establishes a procedure for which there is no appeal of the judgment, except by filing a special appeal through the Supreme Court of Justice, as stipulated in Article 14 of Law 48.
42. The power to grant the special remedy is the authority of the same court of appeals in which all the proceedings provided under Law 23077 took place. After the request was rejected, the defense filed an appeal to the Supreme Court of Justice of Argentina. The final decision that this last level of appeal handed down was issued two-and-a-half years later. For that reason, the petition argues that the complainants actually had access to only one instance, in violation of Article 8.2.h of the American Convention. The judgment issued on October 5, 1989 in the Abella case resulted in the imprisonment of the 20 persons tried.
43. The trial, according to the petitioners, was political and repressive in nature. They contend that the Doctrine of National Security is still applied in Argentina and that the events at La Tablada were identified as a "low intensity conflict."
44. The petitioners contend that the judge did not appear at the scene of the crime as the law calls for, or gather evidence. The judge appeared at a later time, and he limited his involvement to a walk through the places that were shown to him by the military authorities. This leads the petitioners to contend that the judge did not conduct the procedure but was guided through it. The judge allowed the military personnel to gather evidence, in violation of his legal responsibilities. Both the judge and military authorities failed to comply with their legal obligation which calls for the following in situations such as this:
45. The complaint maintains that the judge had the obligation to be present, and he failed to do so even though he had enough time, and as a result, he did not comply with his legal obligation to call upon the attackers to surrender. The petitioners state that the military officer in charge of the operation also failed to comply with the rule, but he also did something much worse: in the face of a clear intention to surrender, he ordered his troops to open fire in violation of strict standards of international human rights. In addition, the complainants state that the judge received and gave legal standing to a document, prepared by the military authorities, and then put it into the file; this was most important for the decision in the case. The judge also allowed the weapons that presumably had been gathered in the barracks to be deposited at military units of the executive branch of government instead of ordering them held at a court site.
46. According to the statements made in the petition, certain actions occurred during the investigative stage of the proceedings, such as the destruction of documents, addition of certain evidence and elimination of other elements which were later used as grounds for the verdict. The secret nature of this stage and the lack of notification of expert opinions resulted in fewer possibilities to add new testimonial or expert evidence and made it impossible for the defense to participate adequately in the trial.
47. The evidence-gathering stage was closed by the court, according to the petitioners, in an abrupt manner and before any pending evidence was presented. The petitioners also contend that some relevant testimony was not allowed, including that of witnesses such as Eduardo Duhalde, who had made public at the time the news about an "imminent military uprising."
48. The defense argued during the trial that the events of January 1989 could not be categorized as a rebellion as is stipulated in Article 226, paragraph 2, of the Penal Code. The defense attorneys believe that the evidence indicates what motivated the attackers was the obligation set out in the National Constitution to take up arms in defense of that Constitution. The petitioners contend in their letter of March 1993 that the attackers were not able to carry out the objectives described in the description of the criminal offense of rebellion:
49. The petitioners allege that their right to conduct their defense was restricted by application of Law 23077 to their case. They believe that this constitutes:
50. When it was time for the defense attorneys to counter the preventive imprisonment ruling, they were not permitted to see the file, which was kept secret, and they only received the documents that were used for the accusation. Likewise, the complainants contend that they were never permitted to participate in the gathering of expert testimony, that most of the evidence they offered was rejected, and that the court closed the evidence finding stage "in an abrupt manner and without consultation." This left a large body of evidence outstanding. The petition states that the defense had no involvement in 43 cases of poorly incorporated expert evidence and 21 seizures of materials, which amount to "fatal formal flaws."
51. One example of the defects in the evidence in the Abella case, again according to the complaint, was the incorporation of documents provided by a priest by the name of Jardin. These documents contain information pertaining to the supposed plans of the MTP to commit a number of crimes, among them the assassination of several political figures. The file does not say who could have given such information to the priest since the priest was protected by the secrecy of confession. Authorship of the papers was attributed to Jorge Baños, one of the attackers killed at La Tablada. The petition also mentions certain weapons that were presented initially to the public in a press conference and then exhibited during the trial for recognition. The petition also contends that the military witnesses who were called upon to make statements were obligated to go first to an adjacent military school "...where they were told in advance what to say."
52. The complaint states that the defense attorneys and the accused were prevented from stating during the trial the unlawful acts committed by the military personnel during the recovery of the barracks and then after the surrender. In the case of Berta Calvo, who apparently lost her life, it states:
53. The complaint describes an "intention to cover up" by the State, as evidenced by the handling of the cadavers. The complainants believe that the autopsies where poorly performed and incomplete, because the bodies were left out in high temperatures for a week, making them "unusable for any serious study." They were later turned over in boxes containing the remains of more than one person, as in the case of Francisco Provenzano. The petition states that the corpses of some five persons were dealt with in this way, and their identity is unknown.
54. The complaint continues stating that in the Abella trial many decisions were handed down that were either not definitive in nature or did not produce unchangeable situations, and that:
55. During the trial, police officer Carlos Alberto Castañeda stated that for the hearing of August 23, 1989, "He had been appointed by his superior officers in answer to a letter prepared by the judge for the purpose of examining a series of documents attributed to the attackers." Several documents provided by military intelligence were accepted by the court for recognition by the witness. The petition indicates here that the witness was prohibited from doing this by Law of Defense 23554. The petitioners believe that this action is even more serious, because these very documents were later used as the grounds for describing the MTP as an illicit association.
56. During the plenary stage of the proceedings, the defense requested that all the testimonial and expert documents provided by the army be declared invalid since they constituted a violation of constitutional standards of the right to a fair trial and the guarantees of due legal process. In addition, the armed forces were prohibited by law from intelligence gathering tasks involving domestic political matters.
57. The petitioners believe that in the plenary hearings there was clear partiality by the court, specifically with regard to the statements of Sebastián Joaquín Ramos and Lieutenant Molteni. The judges constantly interrupted the accused persons, thereby preventing them from making any charges of illegal acts that could be prejudicial to the police or the armed forces. In this sense, the petitioners likewise mention the presence of senior officers in the courtroom when their subordinates were making statements, presumably taking a "position of support."
58. With respect to the final verdict, the complaint points out that all the persons tried were found guilty as the parties responsible for the events at the RIM 3 on January 23 and 24, 1989. The complainants believe that there was no interest in investigating what each one of the attackers had done individually and, as a result, MTP members who were not in the barracks and had never entered it were accused of the same crimes as the attackers and were detained.
59. Of all the persons found guilty, the case of the Capuchin friar Juan Antonio Puigjané is mentioned as "the most pathetic". The petition describes him as follows:
60. The verdict of the San Martín court in the Abella case is described as one "of a clearly political stripe." The complainants emphasize that the State attorney had requested that all the arrested persons be sentenced to life imprisonment. Although in the end this sentence was not given to all the persons found guilty, the petition points out that the sentences are disproportionate to those applied to military persons in similar cases.
61. The complaint refers as well to the fact that there was no independent appeal to a higher court in this case because the verdict of the San Martín Federal Court was never reviewed. In effect, the complaint compares the system under Law 23077 to the Federal Criminal Procedures Code. Under the latter system, which was not applied to the Abella case, the judge of the place where the events occurred is the one who conducts the evidence gathering and hands down the verdict, which can be appealed to a higher court. Under the procedural system of Law 23077, on the other hand, the judge of the place where the events take place conducts the evidence gathering but the sentence is handed down by the higher court. In the case under review here, it was the same San Martín Federal Court which took up on appeal its own non-final decisions as well as the objections raised by the defense, and even the defense's protest regarding the application of Law 23077. Consequently, the only means available to the defense attorneys was the special appeal to the Supreme Court of Justice.
62. In clarifying that the possibilities of review are much narrower under Law 23077, the petitioners explain that they had filed a special appeal of the verdict of the San Martín Federal Court in the Abella case, but that the appeal took two and one-half years for the Supreme Court of Justice of Argentina to resolve. The Court finally rejected the appeal "for lack of standing," and because it did not satisfy any of the grounds provided by law for granting an extraordinary writ; i.e., arbitrary decision, institutional gravity or unconstitutionality of a law. The petition also points out:
63. The complaint refers finally to the Articles of the American Convention that it considers violated in this case. With respect to Article 1.1, it states as follows:
64. The petitioners contend that the repression carried out to recover the La Tablada barracks in January 1989 endangered the life, health and security of the persons who lived around the barracks, and that this was a violation of Article 5.1 of the American Convention. The petitioners believe that the acts of torture, cruel treatment and inhumane treatment of the prisoners, forced disappearance of persons and summary executions are covered "by the same framework of standards."
65. The right to personal freedom of the persons tried in the Abella case is considered to have been violated in this case by the two-year delay of the Supreme Court of Justice to resolve the special appeal filed by the defense. The petitioners contrast this length of time with the speed with which the evidence gathering period was closed and the guilty verdict was handed down by the San Martín Federal Court.
66. Regarding Article 8 of the American Convention, the petition cites it as "the most repeatedly violated rule." The guarantees set out in clause 1 of that article appear to have been violated because, according to the petitioners, the instructions judge and the sentencing court lacked impartiality and independence. Even though the competence of these parties was established earlier by Law 23077, the complaint states that in the Abella case competence was incorrectly based on the nature of the events at La Tablada, rather than on the place where they occurred. They characterize this violation as "subtle," because the judges:
67. The petitioners believe that there was a violation of Article 24 of the American Convention because different treatment has been given to military personnel who have engaged in the type of criminal acts provided for in Law 23077. The references in the complaint emphasize the nature of the repression at La Tablada, how the prisoners were treated, the sentences and the conditions of imprisonment. Comparing these with "acts that were more or less similar undertaken by the military," they believe that there is an obvious discrimination and that the right to equal treatment under the law has been violated for the persons presented as the victims in this case.
C. STATE REPLY
68. The State's initial response to the petitioner's complaint, which was forwarded to the Commission on February 18, 1994, deals fundamentally with the admissibility of the case. The issue of admissibility is discussed separately in a subsequent chapter of this report. In its letter the State also provides an account of the background and scope of Law 23077 which was applied to those tried in the Abella case in Argentina. It refers to the statement of reasons for that law, and quotes:
i. The attack and recapture of the military base
69. The State's information is expanded in its letter that reached the Commission on January 9, 1995. This letter recounts the events that occurred on January 23, 1989 at La Tablada, but does not make direct reference to the complaints of excessive use of force in recovery of the RIM 3 barracks, or to the attendant violation of the right to life alleged by the petitioners.
70. Regarding the intervention of the armed forces in the operation, the State states that this intervention was legitimate in nature because the events took place in an area subject to military control. It states that in application of a general principle of law, "whoever has custody of the place also has the right to repel intruders..."
71. Furthermore, the State uses the Argentine National Constitution to base its opinion that the order to recover the barracks was given by the president of the nation and not by the judge since this was a military operation that was the responsibility of the commander-in-chief and not subject to the judicial body's competence. The State terms that order "...an institutional act of a discretionary nature, free of judicial control, although subject to juridical order." However, it recognizes in its reply that actions taken as a consequence of this institutional act are subject to control of the courts "...since those actions could affect the subjective rights of those administered."
72. The State contends that the president of Argentina, in the exercise of his powers as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, ordered the recovery of the RIM 3 barracks at La Tablada. The petitioners argue that the order should have been issued by a judge. The State considers this an erroneous position since the matter involved a military operation that went beyond the jurisdictional powers of a magistrate. Accordingly, the State contends that the order was issued in the legitimate use of discretionary powers of the president.
73. The State's communication refers to international humanitarian law and to the definition contained in the Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949 on the Treatment of Prisoners of War. It notes that such rules apply only to international armed conflicts, which was not the case of the events of January 1989 at La Tablada.
ii. Events following surrender
74. The State's letter mentions the steps taken by the San Martín Court during the evidence gathering stage. These were indictments, arrest warrants, identification of bodies, detention orders and release orders. It explains:
75. The reply continues by stating that the bodies of Carlos Noberto Maldonado, Pablo Francisco Javier Belli, Sergio Ricardo Mamani, Oscar Alberto Allende and Eduardo Aguero were identified. In other actions, the bodies of Julio Arroyo, Aldira Pereyra Nunes and Ricardo Arjona were identified. The legal process continued with the order of preventive detention of the 20 persons charged, State charges and oral and public hearing which took place from July 20 to October 5, 1989, when the San Martín Federal Court reached the verdict read publicly on October 10, 1989. On October 26, 1989, the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney and the attorneys for the defense filed a special appeal, which was rejected by that Federal Court on December 19, 1989. Consequently, complaint appeals were filed with the Supreme Court of Justice, which rejected them on March 17, 1992.
iii. Applicable laws and judicial proceedings
76. In its letter received on February 18, 1994, the State introduced its arguments with respect to modifying the legal descriptions of the crimes of rebellion and aggravated illicit association. As for changing the rules of competence and procedure, the aforementioned document refers to "...the need to have readily available an effective tool to protect democratic institutions." The reply continues quoting the statement of reasons for the law, which states that
77. The State explains the context of the situation that prevailed in December 1983 when democracy was restored in Argentina. Law 23077 was part of "...a package of laws aimed fundamentally at building a juridical order that was consistent with the republican system of State as embodied in Article 1 of the National Constitution." One of the crimes defined by this law was that of aggravated illicit association, punishable by 5 to 20 years of imprisonment for the following acts:
a) Consists of ten or more individuals;
b) Possesses a military or military type organization;
c) Has a cellular structure;
d) Avails itself of weapons of war or explosives of great offensive power;
e) Operates in more than one of the political subdivisions of the country;
f) Is composed of one or more officers or non-commissioned officers of the armed or police forces;
g) Has well known connections with similar organizations in the country or abroad;
h) Receives some help, assistance or direction from public officials.
78. The definition of the crime of rebellion in the Penal Code was also amended by Law 23077 which sets out a sentence of 5 to 15 years of imprisonment for those who:
79. The punishment for rebellion ranges from 8 to 25 years of imprisonment when the aforementioned crimes are committed:
80. The State states that the documents seized at the MTP headquarters prove that the group had the intention of changing the Constitution by re-insertion of several articles that had been thrown out of the 1949 version, and to overthrow the executive branch of government, since it is impossible to conceive of the consolidation of its "plan of government" without some prior usurpation of that government. The State contends:
81. The State likewise denies that the crimes were incorrectly determined as rebellion, as the petitioners charged by invoking the duty that the attackers had to take up arms in defense of the country, on the grounds of Article 21 of the Constitution. / The State contends that the aforementioned provision is clear and that it does not allow every citizen to interpret the method or the timing of defending the country and its constitution. That would lead to an uncontrollable situation for a democratic government which is constrained by the rule of law.
82. In addition, the State contends that any speculation about the presumably arbitrary nature of the definition of the crimes as rebellion by the San Martín Federal Court only "takes us naturally into the arena of ideology and removes us from the strict application of pre-existing standards," and consequently removes the question from the competence of the Commission.
83. Continuing with its analysis of the applicable legislation, the State contended that Law 23077 does not deprive the accused of the essential means of securing their rights. According to the State, the Abella case produced a judgment based on a law in effect prior to the event, which was the grounds for this trial. Regular judges of the republic were involved and the accused were given sufficient opportunity to be heard and to produce evidence. The State concluded:
84. The alleged violation of the right to appeal the decision of the San Martín Federal Appeals Court does not pertain, according to the State, since the defense had the opportunity to file a special appeal to the Supreme Court of Justice of Argentina for the purpose of overturning the decision. The reply also deals with the active participation of the Supreme Court in the review of the sentences that were supposedly arbitrary through this special appeal procedure. In this context, the State cites the Inter-American Court of Human Rights:
85. The opinion of the Inter-American Court is also cited with respect to the remedy being adequate and effective, "capable of producing the result for which it was designed." / However,
86. The State maintains that the special remedy meets the requirements defined by the Inter-American Court. To that end, the reply mentions that one of the members cast a minority vote in the ruling of the Supreme Court of Justice of Argentina. The dissenting member, Carlos Fayt, held that the decision of the San Martín Federal Court should have been reversed and returned to that Court to issue a new sentence. The State considers:
87. The State further maintains that the single trial system is the only one consistent with the principles of oral proceedings, immediacy and free assessment of evidence. However, the advantages of an oral and public trial do not absolve the system from the important right of appeal for a review of the legality and reasonability of the verdict. The oral trial is only the first stage of the criminal proceeding which, independently of and viewed within a set of stages that constitutes the penal process, should be adjusted to the presumptions of due process and the right to a fair trial as embodied in Article 8 of the American Convention.
88. The State also argues that the petitioners had the opportunity to have the verdict reviewed under Article 14 of Law 48, before the Supreme Court of Justice of the country, in the form of a special appeal. However, the facts of the case show that the special appeal filed by the petitioners in the Abella case was dismissed by the Federal Court of Appeals, dismissal confirmed by the Supreme Court. Therefore, the petitioners never had a higher court review the sentence in the Abella case.
89. The State's reply of February 1994 includes the major pieces of evidence of the Abella case in Argentina and assures that those documents:
90. In its second reply the State again addresses the issue of the special appeal. It mentions the cases in which the appeal was in order under Argentine law. It contends that the questions drawn from the framework of this appeal are also not the subject for consideration by the Commission by virtue of what is known as the "fourth instance formula." /
91. The special appeal filed by the defense was refused in the Abella case by the San Martín Federal Court. As a result, the defense attorneys filed a de facto appeal before the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation. The grounds for that appeal are examined by the State:
92. The State points out that the opinion of the Attorney General of the Nation dated October 11, 1990, considers the appeal out of order owing to the repetition of the arguments that had already been made before the San Martín Federal Court, "without making, consequently, a concrete and systematic critique of the principles" that were the grounds for rejecting the special appeal to the court. The attorney general examines the offenses behind the complaint and concludes in all the cases that "the written documents presented do not provide accreditation to the extremes to upset the ruling questioned." The attorney general considers in his opinion that "the anomie, as argued, the mutilation of the procedural purpose and the general nullity of the trial" have no connection to the court process but refers to the way in which the security forces and the army recovered the attacked barracks; it does not say which aspects of the actions by those forces influenced the development and outcome of the court proceeding or affected the guarantees of due process and of defense in the trial of the accused. The attorney general believes that the offense caused by the separate judicial investigation of the so-called "related cases" was not shown. The Attorney General also rejects the defense allegations regarding the arbitrary nature of the rejection of the evidence since it lacked the requirements that made its consideration possible. Finally, with respect to the institutional gravity invoked by the defense, he states that "this has not been demonstrated" and that only elements that had already been presented and discarded by the court had been included.
93. On March 17, 1992, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation rejected the appeal, agreeing with the opinion of the attorney general. In relation to the "lack of independent grounds," pointed out by the attorney general, the court stated:
94. The State points out that the dissenting vote of judge Carlos Fayt in the ruling of March 17, 1992, rejects the pretention advanced by the defense attorneys to the effect that the conduct of the La Tablada attackers was protected by Article 21 of the National Constitution of Argentina which establishes the obligation for citizens to take up arms in defense of the country and the Constitution. In this connection, the State points out that Dr. Carlos Fayt:
95. The dissenting judge also did not consider that the claim pertains to the incorporation into the trial of evidence that the defense attorneys consider banned since the attorneys did not mention "with the same clarity and insistence what the evidence that had been put together and evaluated in some anomalous way had been." Fayt continues, as quoted by the State, by stating that the appellant did not succeed in demonstrating that:
96. All of the foregoing leads the State to conclude that the special appeal made in the Abella case was in accordance with the requirements of Article 8.2.h of the American Convention.
97. "Abandonment of jurisdictional responsibility," as it was called, was actually not such, according to the State, bearing in mind that the federal judge of Moron intervened immediately and started the investigation on January 23, 1989. The judge issued official letters to the Argentine Federal Police and to the police of the province of Buenos Aires calling upon them to determine the identity of the persons eventually detained and to hold them incommunicado. In his letter, the judge gave a period of 24 hours to receive the full list of wounded, the type of wounds, and information on persons who eventually died. At 3:30 a.m. on January 24, 1989, the office of the secretary of the court for the zone received a letter which noted the detention of Dora Molina, Juan Manuel Burgos, Juan Carlos Abella, Daniel Gabioud Almirón and Miguel Angel Faldutti. On the same day, the judge decided to use for this case the procedure set out in Law 23077. The State emphasizes:
98. With respect to the alleged violation of Article 8.1 of the American Convention, the State points out that Law 23077 was adopted in 1984 to establish the procedure and the competency of the Federal Appeals Court to try the crimes against democracy defined by that law. It cites a decision of the Supreme Court of Argentina dated December 27, 1984, which refers to the constitutionality of the new procedural standards. That judgment concludes that Article 18 of the Constitution has the purpose of proscribing ex post facto laws and embodying guarantee of natural judge. /
99. Reviewing the juridical framework for the trial and the concept of "natural judge," the State points out that the competence of the judge and of the federal court which took up this case had been established in 1984 when Law 23077 was adopted. The reply states that the independence and impartiality of such courts should be measured by the same standards used for the rest of the judicial branch of State since this was a matter of a pre-existing court with competence to hear the crimes that were the subject of the Abella case. The State concludes its analysis of this question in the following terms:
100. The State refutes the petitioners' contention regarding the impossibility of introducing new testimonial evidence and expert witnesses, since the defense had the opportunity to present any element they deemed appropriate to support their case. The expert witnesses that testified did so in oral public hearings, where they were interrogated by members of the tribunal, the prosecution and the defense. The State points out that any of these parties had the right to formulate whatever objections or recusals they considered necessary.
101. The restrictions on the right to defense of the persons tried are also disputed by the State. Its reply to the Commission maintains that these persons were defended by 22 private attorneys of their own choice, "all of whom were recognized bar attorneys and many of them known as persons who worked for the cause of human rights." The reply continues stating in this connection that during the summary stage, only 10 of the 20 persons charged gave declaratory statements (Abella, Burgos, Faldutti, Gabioud Almirón, Molina, Castro, Puigjané, Veiga, Motto and Moreyra). During the hearing, all of those charged who made statements (except Faldutti and Puigjané) availed themselves of their right to answer only questions formulated by defense attorneys. Those who gave oral statements were Abella, Acosta, Burgos, Castro, Díaz, Faldutti, Felicetti, Gabioud Almirón, Molina, Moreyra, Motto, Puigjané, Sebastián Ramos and Veiga. The State emphasizes that the evidence to make the case required the participation of 30 experts and some 20 forensic physicians who, during the hearing, "were the subjects of full examination" which enabled the prosecuting attorney's office and the defense attorneys to control the work of drawing out expert information.
102. The verdict of the San Martín Federal Court deals with the questions regarding the following:
103. As for determining the individual responsibilities of those tried in the Abella case, the State emphasizes that point IV of the reasons for the verdict by the San Martín Federal Court, called Criminal Participation, contains a detailed review of that issue with respect to each of them.
104. The State refers to the so-called "parallel proceedings," and explains that these are judicial investigations undertaken as a consequence of a series of actions initiated by the persons on trial, their family members and attorneys during the substantiation phase of the Abella case. The State believes that the text of Law 23077 is clear in the sense that it covers only attacks against the constitutional order and democracy, and defines the pertinent procedures and penalties. Even if it had been proven that the crimes supposedly committed by Argentine state agents were violations of human rights, that would not be grounds for including them in a judicial case reserved expressly for a law covering crimes of a different nature. The State contends that these would be common crimes, which are different from acts of rebellion and aggravated illicit association, which were investigated in Abella. An extensive application of Law 23077 in that sense:
105. The State also disputes the complaint regarding the intentional delay of the "parallel proceedings" for the purpose of achieving impunity. In that sense, it mentions cases 1781, 1753 and 1754, which were filed by several of those tried for the purpose of investigating complaints of tortures at police stations and at the RIM 3 barracks. In all of them, the final decision to dismiss was not challenged. The same occurred with case No. 1794, which investigated the death of Francisco Provenzano and others, as well as case No. 9969 regarding the disappearance of Iván Ruiz and José A. Díaz. Finally, it also reached the same conclusion regarding the investigation of the presumed statements by police and military personnel at military facilities.
iv. Equal treatment before the law
106. The alleged violations of the principle of equality are also examined by the State. Regarding the discriminatory treatment that Antonio Puigjané presumably received as a result of his status as a priest who advocates liberation theology, it states:
107. In the same sense, the State mentions the vote of Dr. Herrera, a member of the San Martín Federal Court, in the verdict of the Abella case:
108. Regarding the different treatment that military personnel have received, the State clarifies that the termination of proceedings that followed from application of the law of due obedience were adopted as a consequence of Law 23521 of June 1987, whose realm of application relates to events that took place before the restoration of democracy in Argentina in December of 1983.
109. Regarding the pardons granted previously to military personnel, the State believes that the power accorded to the president of Argentina by the national Constitution is political in nature and an exceptional one, and consequently, "absolutely discretionary." The reply also states:
v. Final considerations
110. In August 1995, the State remitted to the Commission a videotape containing an interview shown on Argentine channel TELEFE with Enrique Gorriarán Merlo, an officer of the MTP and a former member of the Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo (ERP) guerrilla organization. The interview was conducted on May 17, 1995. The State points out the statements that Gorriarán made when he was asked about the reasons behind the attack on La Tablada:
111. In further reference to La Tablada, Gorriarán said that when the military came out with tanks at 11 in the morning, he even thought that his colleagues might be aboard them. At noon he understood that the plan had failed and that the only objective achieved had been to stop the uprising, although "...at an extremely high cost and ultimately with failure of the plan." He himself took responsibility for the events in these terms:
It was a collective political decision but I assume all the responsibility. I am the person mainly responsible for it. We thought that if we were successful in seizing the barracks in the way it was planned, people would respond to a call for mobilization to demand that the government change its economic policy and take a firm stand against military pressures.
112. The State believes that the information that emerged from this interview confirms that the judgment of the participants in the events of January 1989 at La Tablada under Law 23077 was consistent with law, because:
113. The State also notes that the statements made by Gorriarán during the course of the interview indicate that:
114. The reply then refers to the videotape that was provided by the petitioners to the Commission and to the State. It points out that the questions raised in that tape "involve considerations about the matters that were not the subject of the trial in the national courts and are issues other than those put before your Commission."
II. PROCESSING BEFORE THE COMMISSION
115. On March 4, 1993, a hearing was held with the petitioners and the Commission. On that occasion, these persons presented a summary of the complaint. On May 14, 1993, the same persons remitted a note containing a complaint that the prison conditions had been unnecessarily aggravated. The letter stated that the imprisoned, both male and female, who were in different penitentiaries, had been grouped with common criminals for the purpose of minimizing their status as "political prisoners." They requested that the Commission visit the prisons to verify their status since they considered that the lives of these persons were in danger.
116. Other letters were received from the petitioners on August 11 and 25, September 27 and October 4, 1993, requesting information about the status of the case and urging the Commission to reach some decision regarding its admissibility. The Commission acknowledged receipt of the letters.
117. On October 18, 1993, the pertinent parts of the petition were sent to the State of Argentina requesting information within a term of 90 days. In reply to a letter sent by the State on December 13, 1993, the Commission granted an extension of 30 days as from January 15, 1994, to furnish the information requested.
118. A second hearing was held on January 27, 1994, between the petitioners and the State representatives.
119. On February 2, 1994, the petitioners remitted additional information about the case in which they stated their discontent with the State's delay in responding. The information was sent to the State on February 15, 1994.
120. A reply was received from the State on February 18, 1994, and sent to the petitioners on March 30, 1994, whose pertinent observations were received by the Commission on May 19, 1994.
121. The petitioners' observations were sent to the State on June 13, 1994. On September 27, 1994, the petitioners sent a new letter that repeated the original complaints, and added information about the violations of the rights protected by Article 24 of the American Convention. The petitioners also sent a videotape of the events at La Tablada. They contend that the tape contains important evidence showing excessive repression and most of the other violations alleged.
122. On January 9, 1995, the State sent its reply to the observations of the petitioners. The reply contains the official version of the events, as set out in the file.
123. The petitioners' observations to the last State reply were received on March 9, 1995.
124. After an extension, the State sent its final letter about this case on August 10, 1995, which also included a copy of the previously mentioned videotape of the TELEFE interview with Enrique Gorriarán Merlo.
125. The petitioners requested a hearing during the ninetieth regular session of the Commission, which was denied by letter dated August 16, 1995.
126. On July 5, 1996, a member of the Commission and an attorney from the Office of the Executive Secretariat met in Buenos Aires with a group of petitioners in this case. The group was made up of attorney Martha Fernández de Burgos, Lidia Felicetti, Beatriz Acosta, Dagmar Alvarez de Ramos, Marta S. Almirón and Marisa Rodríguez, all relatives of the persons convicted or killed as a result of the events at La Tablada in January 1989. These persons reiterated the violations charged, and made a summary of the present status of the victims, and their jail conditions.
A. FORMAL REQUIREMENTS
127. Internal remedies have been completely exhausted under Argentine law, as called for in Article 46.1.a of the American Convention and Article 37 of the Regulations of the Commission. These remedies were fully exhausted with the rejection of the petitioners' appeal by the Supreme Court of Justice of Argentina on March 17, 1992.
128. The petition was received on September 14, 1992, within the six month period established in Article 46.1.b of the American Convention. The subject matter of the petition is not pending in any other international proceeding for settlement, and the information required by Article 46.1.d has been furnished by the petitioners.
129. The State has not objected to the compliance with the formal requirements for admissibility of this case.
B. GROUNDS FOR INADMISSIBILITY
130. Article 47 of the American Convention establishes the
grounds for inadmissibility of petitions or communications presented to the
Commission. Clause b of that Article refers to complaints that do not
state facts that tend to establish some violation of the rights guaranteed by
the American Convention.
i. Position of the State
131. According to the State, the issues at bar were fully and fairly litigated in Argentina and thus, for the Commission to review those issues would be for it to act as a fourth instance.
132. The other complaints of the petitioners regarding the procedural standards applied, the establishment of the crime and the respective levels of responsibility are considered by the State as sufficiently well discussed and decided upon by the national courts.
133. In the letter received by the Commission on February 18, 1994, the State expressed its concern regarding the petition because, in the final analysis, the plaintiffs' allegations and other issues at bar had already been examined and decided upon by the judicial branch of State in Argentina "...all in conformity with domestic law, as well as with obligations assumed by the State at the regional and international level."
134. The State requests in its communications that the case be declared inadmissible although it mentioned on several occasions that it was willing to provide any additional information, if requested by the Commission.
ii. Position of the petitioners
135. The petitioners requested in their letter of February 2, 1994, that the theory of "fourth quasi-judicial level" of the Commission not be applied to its case. In its observations of May 14, 1994, the petitioners dispute the State's statements about the "fourth instance" nature that a review of their case by the Commission would have. They reject the argument that the petition is based on a "mere difference of opinion about estimations and appreciations made by national judges." To the contrary, they contend that their complaint refers to summary executions, torture, death of defenseless persons, and executions of prisoners who had surrendered, none of which had been addressed by the State. They believe that the State's reply deals with abstract matters, and does not refer to a single one of the specific violations denounced.
136. In addition, the petitioners indicate that the reply refers to criminal procedures in effect in Argentina. However, the new Procedural Code was not applied to those tried in the Abella case since they had already been sentenced under Law 23077 when the new rules went into effect. The petitioners likewise maintain that their right to equality before the law was violated, bearing in mind the fact that the special appeal filed to overturn the conviction of the commanders of the military dictatorship juntas from 1976 to 1983 in Argentina was decided by the Supreme Court in one year. They attribute this difference in treatment to their status as civilians.
137. The petitioners believe that the State has failed to reply to most of the specific allegations contained in their complaint, namely:
a. Carlos Samojedny, Iván Ruiz and Alejandro Díaz were arrested while still alive and are still disappeared.
b. Francisco Provenzano was arrested while alive and his body was later identified by his family members; his remains appeared to show the effects of a bomb explosion.
c. Berta Calvo, arrested with serious wounds, later died without medical care; no mention has been made of the status of the military officer who confessed to having emptied his weapon into her while she was defenseless.
d. Ricardo Veiga, Roberto Sánchez and Carlos Alberto Burgos were executed inside the barracks; the latter of these was seen while still alive by his family members after mid-day on January 23, 1989.
e. Pablo Martín Ramos was arrested while alive and then summarily executed.
f. Juan Manuel Murúa was in Company B of the barracks when it was destroyed by cannon fire and the roof caved in; his body has still not been identified and therefore he is included among the disappeared.
g. The attempts to surrender which began at 9:30 a.m. on January 23, 1989, were ignored; General Arrillaga, in charge of the operation, contradicted himself repeatedly in court regarding this and other events.
h. The force used by the State to recapture the base was illegal, unnecessary and irrational, and included methods and weapons prohibited by the Geneva Conventions and its Protocols, and exceeded that which is provided for in Law 23077.
i. The State ignored its jurisdictional responsibility during the evidence gathering phase of this proceeding when illegal evidence was introduced; examples being reports prepared by the military intelligence services and evidence seized in illegal raids. These were given juridical certitude by the court.
j. The prisoners were tortured physically and psychologically in the barracks after their arrest.
k. Numerous violations of due process took place, examples being the crimes with which the defendants were charged, the surprising close of the summary stage, the 43 expert testimonies and the 19 seizures made outside procedural law, as well as the so-called "parallel proceedings."
l. The violation of the right
to equality before the law.
iii. The "fourth instance formula"
138. The jurisprudence of the Commission regarding the "fourth instance formula" has been defined repeatedly since report 39/96. / Below appear several of the grounds of that report which apply to this case.
139. The international protection provided by the supervisory bodies of the American Convention is of a subsidiary nature. The Preamble to the American Convention is clear in this respect, when it refers to the reinforcement or complementariety of the protection provided by the domestic law of the American states.
140. The rule of prior exhaustion of domestic remedies is based on the principle that a defendant State must be allowed to provide redress on its own and within the framework of its internal legal system. The effect of this rule is "to assign to the jurisdiction of the Commission an essentially subsidiary role". /
141. The nature of that role also constitutes the basis for the so-called "fourth instance formula" applied by the Commission, consistent with the practice of the European human rights system. / The basic premise of this formula is that the Commission cannot review the judgments issued by the domestic courts acting within their competence and with due judicial guarantees, unless it considers that a possible violation of the Convention is involved.
142. The Commission is competent to declare a petition admissible and rule on its merits when it portrays a claim that a domestic legal decision constitutes a disregard of the right to a fair trial, or if it appears to violate any other right guaranteed by the American Convention. However, if it contains nothing but the allegation that the decision was wrong or unjust in itself, the petition must be dismissed under this formula. The Commission's task is to ensure the observance of the obligations undertaken by the States parties to the American Convention, but it cannot serve as an appellate court to examine alleged errors of internal law or fact that may have been committed by the domestic courts acting within their jurisdiction. Such examination would be in order only insofar as the mistakes entailed a possible violation of any of the rights set forth in the American Convention.
143. In democratic societies, where the courts function according to a system of powers established by the Constitution and domestic legislation, it is for those courts to review the matters brought before them. Where it is clear that there has been a violation of one of the rights protected by the American Convention, then the Commission is competent to review, if domestic remedies have been exhausted.
144. The Commission has full authority to adjudicate irregularities of domestic judicial proceedings which result in manifest violations of due process or of any of the rights protected by the American Convention.
145. The Commission believes that the petitioners' complaint refers to events that tend to establish the violation of a number of human rights protected by the Convention. The petitioners have exhausted all domestic legal remedies as required by Article 46 of the American Convention, and there is no verification of any of the grounds for inadmissibility set out in Article 47 of the instrument. Consequently, this case is admissible and therefore the Commission is competent to examine and decide on the fundamental issue of the violations charged.
146. In order to facilitate the analysis of key events and issues raised in this case, this report will examine those events and issues under the following three headings: the attack on and the recovery of the military base; the events that followed the surrender of the attackers and the arrest of their alleged accomplices; and the trial of those same persons for the crime of rebellion in the Abella case.
A. THE ATTACK AND RECAPTURE OF THE MILITARY BASE
147. In their complaint, petitioners invoke various rules of International Humanitarian Law, i.e. the law of armed conflict, in support of their allegations that State agents used excessive force and illegal means in their efforts to recapture the La Tablada military base. For its part, the Argentine State, while rejecting the applicability of interstate armed conflict rules to the events in question, nonetheless have in their submissions to the Commission characterized the decision to retake the La Tablada base by force as a “military operation”. The State also has cited the use of arms by the attackers to justify their prosecution for the crime of rebellion as defined in Law 23.077. Both the Argentine State and petitioners are in agreement that on the 23 and 24 of January 1989 an armed confrontation took place at the La Tablada base between attackers and Argentine armed forces for approximately 30 hours.
148. The Commission believes that before it can properly evaluate the merits of the petitioner’s claims concerning the recapture of the La Tablada base by the Argentine military, it must first determine whether the armed confrontation at the base was merely an example of an “internal disturbance or tensions” or whether it constituted a non-international or internal armed conflict within the meaning of Article 3 common to the four 1949 Geneva conventions (“Common Article 3"). Because the legal rules governing an internal armed conflict vary significantly from those governing situations of internal disturbances or tensions, a proper characterization of the events at the La Tablada military base on January 23 and 24, 1989 is necessary to determine the sources of applicable law. This, in turn, requires the Commission to examine the characteristics that differentiate such situations from Common Article 3 armed conflicts in light of the particular circumstances surrounding the incident at the La Tablada base.
i. Internal disturbances and tensions
149. The notion of internal disturbances and tensions has been studied and elaborated on most particularly by the International Committee of the Red Cross (“ICRC”). In its 1973 Commentary on the Draft Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions /, the ICRC defined, albeit not exhaustively, such situations by way of the following three examples:
- riots, that is to say, all disturbances which from the start are not directed by a leader and have no concerted intent;
- isolated and sporadic acts of violence, as distinct from military operations carried out by armed forces or organized armed groups;
- other acts of a similar nature which incur, in particular, mass arrests of persons because of their behavior or political opinion / (Emphasis supplied.)
150. According to the ICRC, what principally distinguishes situations of serious tension from internal disturbances is the level of violence involved. While tensions can be sequels of an armed conflict or internal disturbance, the latter are
151. Situations of internal disturbances and tensions are expressly excluded from the scope of international humanitarian law as not being armed conflicts. Instead, they are governed by domestic law and relevant rules of international human rights law.
ii. Non-international armed conflicts under humanitarian law
152. In contrast to these situations of domestic violence, the concept of armed conflict, in principle, requires the existence of organized armed groups that are capable of and actually do engage in combat and other military actions against each other. In this regard, Common Article 3 simply refers to, but does not actually define “an armed conflict of a non-international character.” However, Common Article 3 is generally understood to apply to low intensity and open armed confrontations between relatively organized armed forces or groups that take place within the territory of a particular State. Thus, Common Article 3 does not apply to riots, mere acts of banditry or an unorganized and short-lived rebellion. Article 3 armed conflicts typically involve armed strife between governmental armed forces and organized armed insurgents. It also governs situations where two or more armed factions confront one another without the intervention of governmental forces where, for example, the established government has dissolved or is too weak to intervene. It is important to understand that application of Common Article 3 does not require the existence of large-scale and generalized hostilities or a situation comparable to a civil war in which dissident armed groups exercise control over parts of national territory. The Commission notes that the ICRC’s authoritative Commentary on the 1949 Geneva Conventions indicates that, despite the ambiguity in its threshold of application, Common Article 3 should be applied as widely as possible.
153. The most difficult problem regarding the application of Common Article 3 is not at the upper end of the spectrum of domestic violence, but rather at the lower end. The line separating an especially violent situation of internal disturbances from the “lowest” level Article 3 armed conflict may sometimes be blurred and, thus, not easily determined. When faced with making such a determination, what is required in the final analysis is a good faith and objective analysis of the facts in each particular case.
iii. Characterization of the events at the La Tablada base
154. Based on a careful appreciation of the facts, the Commission does not believe that the violent acts at the La Tablada military base on January 23 and 24, 1989 can be properly characterized as a situation of internal disturbances. What happened there was not equivalent to large scale violent demonstrations, students throwing stones at the police, bandits holding persons hostage for ransom, or the assassination of government officials for political reasons -- all forms of domestic violence not qualifying as armed conflicts.
155. What differentiates the events at the La Tablada base from these situations are the concerted nature of the hostile acts undertaken by the attackers, the direct involvement of governmental armed forces, and the nature and level of the violence attending the events in question. More particularly, the attackers involved carefully planned, coordinated and executed an armed attack, i.e., a military operation, against a quintessential military objective - a military base. The officer in charge of the La Tablada base sought, as was his duty, to repulse the attackers, and President Alfonsín, exercising his constitutional authority as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, ordered that military action be taken to recapture the base and subdue the attackers.
156. The Commission concludes therefore that, despite its brief duration, the violent clash between the attackers and members of the Argentine armed forces triggered application of the provisions of Common Article 3, as well as other rules relevant to the conduct of internal hostilities.
iv. The Commission's competence to apply international humanitarian law
157. Before addressing petitioner’s specific claims, the Commission thinks it useful to clarify the reasons why it has deemed it necessary at times to apply directly rules of international humanitarian law or to inform its interpretations of relevant provisions of the American Convention by reference to these rules. A basic understanding of the interrelationship of these two branches of international law --human rights and humanitarian law-- is instructive in this regard.
158. The American Convention, as well as other universal and regional human rights instruments, and the 1949 Geneva Conventions share a common nucleus of non-derogable rights and a common purpose of protecting human life and dignity. These human rights treaties apply both in peacetime, and during situations of armed conflict. Although one of their purposes is to prevent warfare, none of these human rights instruments was designed to regulate such situations and, thus, they contain no rules governing the means and methods of warfare.
159. In contrast, international humanitarian law generally does not apply in peacetime, and its fundamental purpose is to place restraints on the conduct of warfare in order to diminish the effects of hostilities. It is understandable therefore that the provisions of conventional and customary humanitarian law generally afford victims of armed conflicts greater or more specific protections than do the more generally phrased guarantees in the American Convention and other human rights instruments.
160. It is, moreover, during situations of internal armed conflict that these two branches of international law most converge and reinforce each other. Indeed, the authors of one of the authoritative commentaries on the two 1977 Protocols Additional to the 1949 Geneva Conventions state in this regard:
161. For example, both Common Article 3 and Article 4 of the American Convention protect the right to life and, thus, prohibit, inter alia, summary executions in all circumstances. Claims alleging arbitrary deprivations of the right to life attributable to State agents are clearly within the Commission’s jurisdiction. But the Commission’s ability to resolve claimed violations of this non-derogable right arising out of an armed conflict may not be possible in many cases by reference to Article 4 of the American Convention alone. This is because the American Convention contains no rules that either define or distinguish civilians from combatants and other military targets, much less, specify when a civilian can be lawfully attacked or when civilian casualties are a lawful consequence of military operations. Therefore, the Commission must necessarily look to and apply definitional standards and relevant rules of humanitarian law as sources of authoritative guidance in its resolution of this and other kinds of claims alleging violations of the American Convention in combat situations. To do otherwise would mean that the Commission would have to decline to exercise its jurisdiction in many cases involving indiscriminate attacks by State agents resulting in a considerable number of civilian casualties. Such a result would be manifestly absurd in light of the underlying object and purposes of both the American Convention and humanitarian law treaties.
162. Apart from these considerations, the Commission’s competence to apply humanitarian law rules is supported by the text of the American Convention, by its own case law, as well as the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Virtually every OAS member State that is a State Party to The American Convention has also ratified one or more of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and /or other humanitarian law instruments. As States Parties to the Geneva Conventions, they are obliged as a matter of customary international law to observe these treaties in good faith and to bring their domestic law into compliance with these instruments. Moreover, they have assumed a solemn duty “to respect and to ensure respect” of these Conventions in all circumstances, most particularly, during situations of interstate or internal hostilities.
163. In addition, as States Parties to the American Convention, these same states are also expressly required under Article 25 of the American Convention to provide an internal legal remedy to persons for violations by State agents of their fundamental rights “recognized by the constitution or laws of the state concerned or by this Convention” (emphasis supplied). Thus, when the claimed violation is not redressed on the domestic level and the source of the right is a guarantee set forth in the Geneva Conventions, which the State Party concerned has made operative as domestic law, a complaint asserting such a violation, can be lodged with and decided by the Commission under Article 44 of the American Convention. Thus, the American Convention itself authorizes the Commission to address questions of humanitarian law in cases involving alleged violations of Article 25.
164. The Commission believes that in those situations where the American Convention and humanitarian law instruments apply concurrently, Article 29(b) of the American Convention necessarily require the Commission to take due notice of and, where appropriate, give legal effect to applicable humanitarian law rules. Article 29(b) --the so-called "most-favorable-to-the-individual-clause"-- provides that no provision of the American Convention shall be interpreted as "restricting the enforcement or exercise of any right or freedom recognized by virtue of the laws of any State Party of another convention which one of the said states is a party."
165. The purpose of this Article is to prevent States Parties from relying on the American Convention as a ground for limiting more favorable or less restrictive rights to which an individual is otherwise entitled under either national or international law. Thus, where there are differences between legal standards governing the same or comparable rights in the American Convention and a humanitarian law instrument, the Commission is duty bound to give legal effort to the provision(s) of that treaty with the higher standard(s) applicable to the right(s) or freedom(s) in question. If that higher standard is a rule of humanitarian law, the Commission should apply it.
166. Properly viewed, the close interrelationship between human rights law and humanitarian law also supports the Commission's authority under Article 29 (b) to apply humanitarian law, where it is relevant. In this regard, the authors of the New Rules make the following pertinent point regarding the reciprocal relationship between Protocol II and the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:
167. Their point is equally valid concerning the mutual relationship between the American Convention and Protocol II and other relevant sources of humanitarian law, such as Common Article 3.
168. In addition, the Commission believes that a proper understanding of the relationship between applicable humanitarian law treaties and Article 27(1), the derogation clause of the American Convention, is relevant to this discussion. This Article permits a State Party to the American Convention to temporarily derogate, i.e., suspend, certain Convention based guarantees during genuine emergency situations. But, Article 27(1) requires that any suspension of guarantees not be "inconsistent with that State's other obligations under international law". Thus, while it cannot be interpreted as incorporating by reference into the American Convention all of a State's other international legal obligations, Article 27(1) does prevent a State from adopting derogation measures that would violate its other obligations under conventional or customary international law.
169. A past President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Professor Thomas Buergenthal, has written the following concerning Article 4 of the U.N. Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, that treaty's derogation clause:
170. Inasmuch as the content of Article 27(1) of the American Convention is, in most material respects, identical to that of Article 4(1) of the Covenant, the Commission is of the view that Professor Buergenthal's analysis applies with equal force to issues involving the interpretation and application of Article 27(1) during situations of armed conflict. Thus, when reviewing the legality of derogation measures taken by a State Party to the American Convention by virtue of the existence of an armed conflict to which both the American Convention and humanitarian law treaties apply, the Commission should not resolve this question solely by reference to the text of Article 27 of the American Convention. Rather, it must also determine whether the rights affected by these measures are similarly guaranteed under applicable humanitarian law treaties. If it finds that the rights in question are not subject to suspension under these humanitarian law instruments, the Commission should conclude that these derogation measures are in violation of the State Parties obligations under both the American Convention and the humanitarian law treaties concerned.
171. It is also worth noting that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has viewed with approval the Commission's practice of applying sources of international law, other than the American Convention. In its Advisory Opinion interpreting the terms "other treaties" in Article 64 of the American Convention, the Court stated:
v. Petitioners' claims
172. Petitioners do not dispute the fact that the attackers captured in La Tablada planned, initiated and participated in the attack on the military base. They contend, however, that the reason or motive for the attack --to stop a rumored military coup against the Alfonsín government-- was legally justified by Article 21 of the National Constitution which obliged citizens “to take up arms in defense of the Constitution.” Consequently, they assert that their prosecutions for the crime of rebellion was violative of the American Convention. In addition, petitioners argue that because their cause was “just” and lawful, the State, by virtue of its excessive and unlawful use of force in retaking the military base, must bear full legal and moral responsibility for all the loss of life and material damage occasioned by its actions.
173. The Commission believes that petitioners’ arguments reflect certain fundamental misconceptions concerning the nature of international humanitarian law. It should be understood that neither application of Common Article 3, nor of any other humanitarian law rules relevant to the hostilities at the Tablada base, can be interpreted as recognizing the legitimacy of the reasons or the cause for which the members of the MTP took up arms. Most importantly, application of the law is not conditioned by the causes of the conflict. This basic tenant of humanitarian law is enshrined in the preamble of Additional Protocol I which states in pertinent part:
174. Unlike human rights law which generally restrains only the abusive practices of State agents, Common Article 3's mandatory provisions expressly bind and apply equally to both parties to internal conflicts, i.e., government and dissident forces. Moreover, the obligation to apply Common Article 3 is absolute for both parties and independent of the obligation of the other.  Therefore, both the MTP attackers and the Argentine armed forces had the same duties under humanitarian law, and neither party could be held responsible for the acts of the other.
175. Insofar as petitioners request the Commission to assess and approve of the motives for which their clients took up arms, the Commission must observe that, as a rule, its jurisdiction does not extend to the conduct of private actors which is not imputable to the State. Further, it is and was, in the first instance, for the Argentine State, and, in particular, its courts, to interpret and apply Article 21 of the National Constitution and Law 23.077. The Commission’s role is to ensure the observance of the obligations undertaken by States Parties to the American Convention, but it cannot serve as an appellate court to examine alleged errors in the application or interpretation of national law that may have been committed by domestic courts acting within their jurisdiction. Such an examination would be in order only if the interpretation or application of the law entailed a possible violation of any of the rights set forth in the American Convention. Based on the record, the Commission does not find that the prosecution of petitioner’s clients for the crime of rebellion under Law 23.077 constitutes a violation of any of the American Convention’s provisions.
vi. Application of Humanitarian Law
176. Common Article 3's basic purpose is to have certain minimum legal rules apply during hostilities for the protection of person’s who do not or no longer take a direct or active part in the hostilities. Persons entitled to Common Article 3's mandatory protection include members of both State and dissident forces who surrender, are captured or are hors de combat. Individual civilians are similarly covered by Common Article 3's safeguards when they are captured by or otherwise subjected to the power of an adverse party, even if they had fought for the opposing party.
177. In addition to Common Article 3, customary law principles applicable to all armed conflicts require the contending parties to refrain from directly attacking the civilian population and individual civilians and to distinguish in their targeting between civilians and combatants and other lawful military objectives. In order to spare civilians from the effects of hostilities, other customary law principles require the attacking party to take precautions so as to avoid or minimize loss of civilian life or damage to civilian property incidental or collateral to attacks on military targets.
178. The Commission believes that petitioners misperceive the practical and legal consequences that ensued with respect to the application of these rules to those MTP members who participated in the Tablada attack. Specifically, when civilians, such as those who attacked the Tablada base, assume the role of combatants by directly taking part in fighting, whether singly or as a member of a group, they thereby become legitimate military targets. As such, they are subject to direct individualized attack to the same extent as combatants. Thus, by virtue of their hostile acts, the Tablada attackers lost the benefits of the above mentioned precautions in attack and against the effects of indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks pertaining to peaceable civilians. In contrast, these humanitarian law rules continued to apply in full force with respect to those peaceable civilians present or living in the vicinity of the La Tablada base at the time of the hostilities. The Commission notes parenthetically that it has received no petition lodged by any such persons against the State of Argentina alleging that they or their property sustained damage as a result of the hostilities at the base.
179. When they attacked the La Tablada base, those persons involved clearly assumed the risk of a military response by the State. The fact that the Argentine military had superior numbers and fire power and brought them to bear against the attackers cannot be regarded in and of itself as a violation of any rule of humanitarian law. This does not mean, however, that either the Argentine military or the MTP attackers had unlimited discretion in their choice of means of injuring the other. Rather, both parties were required to conduct their military operations within the restraints and prohibitions imposed by applicable humanitarian law rules.
180. In this connection, petitioners in essence allege that the Argentine military violated two specific prohibitions applicable in armed conflicts, namely:
a) a refusal by the Argentine military to accept the attackers offer to surrender, tantamount to a denial of quarter; and
b) the use of weapons of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering, specifically, incendiary weapons.
181. In evaluating petitioners’ claims, the Commission is mindful that because of the peculiar and confusing conditions frequently attending combat, the ascertainment of crucial facts frequently cannot be made with clinical certainty. The Commission believes that the appropriate standard for judging the actions of those engaged in hostilities must be based on a reasonable and honest appreciation of the overall situation prevailing at the time the action occurred and not on the basis of speculation or hindsight.
182. With regard to their first allegation, petitioners charge that the Argentine military deliberately ignored the attempt of the attackers to surrender some four hours after the hostilities began on January 23, 1989 which unnecessarily prolonged the fighting an additional twenty-six hours and thereby resulted in needless deaths and suffering on both sides. Apart from the testimony of the attack survivors, petitioners rely on a video tape, which they submitted to the Commission, to substantiate their claims. The video tape is a compilation of news programs broadcast by channels 2, 9, 11 and 13 of Argentina on the day of the attack, as well as subsequent documentaries by the same stations and other footage that the petitioners considered relevant to their case. While the tape is an important aid to its understanding of the events in question, the Commission believes that its probative value is nonetheless questionable. For example, the tape does not provide a sequential and uninterrupted documentation of the 30 hours of combat at the base. Rather, it is an edited depiction of certain events which were compiled by a private producer at the request of the petitioners, for the specific purpose of presentation to the Commission.
183. The Commission carefully viewed the above mentioned video tape, and identified two different scenes which supposedly depict the attempted surrender. The first of them, in which the image is not very clear, shows a very brief scene of a white flag being waved from a window. This first scene, however, is not connected to any of the others on the video, nor is there any indication of the precise moment when it took place. The second scene shows a larger image of one of the buildings inside the military base, which is being hit by a volley of gunfire, presumably from Argentine forces. Upon repeated viewings and careful scrutiny of this second scene, the Commission was not able to see the white flag which supposedly was being waved from within the building by the MTP attackers.
184. The tape is also notable for what it does not show. In fact, it does not identify the precise time or day of the putative surrender attempt. Nor does it show what was happening at the same time in other parts of the base where other attackers were located. If these persons, for whatever reason, continued to fire or commit other hostile acts, the Argentine military might not unreasonably have believed that the white flag was an attempt to deceive or divert them.
185. Thus, because of the incomplete nature of the evidence, the Commission is not in a position to conclude that the Argentine armed forces purposefully rejected a surrender attempt by the attackers at 9:00 am on the 23d of January. The Commission does note, however, that the fact that there were survivors among them tends to belie any intimation that an order of no quarter was actually given.
186. The video tape is even less probative of petitioners' claim that the Argentine military used incendiary weapons against the attackers. The video does show a fiery explosion in a structure presumably occupied by some of the attackers. But the precise nature of the weapon used that caused the explosion in not revealed by the tape. The reason for the explosion could be attributed to a weapon other than an incendiary device. For example, it might have been caused by a munition designed to pierce installations or facilities where the incendiary effect was not specifically designed to cause burn injury to persons, or as the result of a direct hit by an artillery shell that exploded munitions located within or near the attacker’s defensive position. Without the benefit of testimony from munitions experts or forensic evidence establishing a likely causal connection between the explosion and the use of an incendiary weapon, the Commission simply cannot conclude that the Argentine military employed such a device against the attackers.
187. The Commission must note that even if it were proved that the Argentine military had used such weapons, it cannot be said that their use in January 1989 violated an explicit prohibition applicable to the conduct of internal armed conflicts at that time. In this connection, the Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons annexed to the 1981 United Nation’s Conference on Prohibitions or Restrictions of Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May be Deemed to be Excessively Injurious and to Have Indiscriminate Effects (“Weapons Convention”), cited by petitioners, was not ratified by Argentina until 1995. Moreover and most pertinently, Article 1 of the Weapons Convention states that the Incendiary Weapons Protocol applies only to interstate armed conflicts and to a limited class of national liberation wars. As such, this instrument did not directly apply to the internal hostilities at the La Tablada. In addition, the Protocol does not make the use of such weapons per se unlawful. Although it prohibits their direct use against peaceable civilians, it does not ban their deployment against lawful military targets, which include civilians who directly participate in combat.
188. Because of the lack of sufficient evidence establishing that State agents used illegal methods and means of combat, the Commission must conclude that the killing or wounding of the attackers which occurred prior to the cessation of combat on January 24, 1989 were legitimately combat related and, thus, did not constitute violations of the American Convention or applicable humanitarian law rules.
189. The Commission wishes to emphasize, however, that the persons who participated in the attack on the military base were legitimate military targets only for such time as they actively participated in the fighting. Those who surrendered, were captured or wounded and ceased their hostile acts, fell effectively within the power of Argentine state agents, who could no longer lawfully attack or subject them to other acts of violence. Instead, they were absolutely entitled to the non-derogable guarantees of humane treatment set forth in both common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and Article 5 of the American Convention. The intentional mistreatment, much less summary execution, of such wounded or captured persons would be a particularly serious violation of both instruments.
B. EVENTS FOLLOWING SURRENDER
190. Based on the information in this case, the Commission can conclude that on January 24, 1989 State security forces proceeded to arrest some of the attackers, while others surrendered. It should be noted that not all the attackers were in the same place on the morning of the second day; some of them were captured by the military authorities as the fighting continued, before the main group surrendered. The main group, made up of the 13 people identified at the beginning of this report (paragraph 6 "Sentenced to prison - life"), was in the Non-Commissioned Officers' Club of RIM 3, where they were urged to surrender by General Arrillaga; they did so at 9:00 a.m. on January 24, 1989.
191. The petitioners allege that the Argentine State carried out the forced disappearances of six people, and the extrajudicial executions of four others, after they were all in the custody of the military authorities who re-took the barracks.
192. As to the allegations of disappearances, the petitioners base their claim on the fact that it was not possible to locate the remains of the alleged victims. For purposes of establishing the existence of a forced disappearance, the principal source of standards is the Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons. That treaty provides, at Article II:
193. In this case, the Commission takes note of the fact that the Argentine State declined in its communications to the Commission to refer, much less deny or refute, petitioners' allegations of the forced disappearance of the above-noted individuals. Notwithstanding the State's silence on this issue, the Commission does not believe that the information provided by the petitioners is sufficient to make a showing that Roberto Sánchez, Carlos Alberto Burgos, Iván Ruiz, José Alejandro Díaz, Carlos Samojedny, and Juan Manuel Murúa have been victims of a forced disappearance by agents of the Argentine State. In effect, although the evidence in the file tends to show that some of those persons were detained by State agents after their surrender, there is not sufficient evidence to establish that the authorities have refused to recognize their deprivation of liberty or to report on what happened to them.
194. In the absence of such evidence, the Commission is not able to find that State agents hid the corpses of the six persons indicated as disappeared in the complaint. In this regard, the petitioners themselves indicate that the mortal remains of some of the attackers were mixed up and that their identification, consequently, was impossible. Therefore, the Commission concludes that the factual and legal grounds necessary to make a showing of forced disappearance are not present in this case, and will proceed to analyze whether there was some other violation of the human rights of the persons mentioned.
195. Before beginning the analysis, the Commission should emphasize that once the attackers were captured and disarmed, they were plainly defenseless, indeed several of them were seriously wounded. The Commission believes that the relationship between the State agents and the attackers at the time of their capture, and thereafter, was analogous to that of prison guards and the inmates under their custody. As such, the State had, under Article 1(1) of the American Convention and Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, a duty to treat these persons humanely in all circumstances and to ensure their safety. Consistent with this relationship, the Commission finds that where the deaths of or injuries to such persons under the exclusive control and custody of the State are alleged, the State must bear the burden of proving otherwise to the Commission.
196. The Commission's position, expressed in the previous paragraph, is consistent with the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the Neira Alegría Case. In that case, the Commission charged the Peruvian State with the violation of several rights protected by the American Convention, including the right to life of three persons who died during a prison riot in Peru that included the participation of more than 100 prisoners accused of terrorism. In its final brief, the State limited itself to arguing that the allegations concerning the deaths of the prisoners were not backed by sufficient evidence and that it had met its obligations to respect the rights and liberties recognized by the American Convention. The judgment in that case held:
[i]n contrast to domestic criminal law, in proceedings to determine human rights violations the State cannot rely on the defense that the complainant has failed to present evidence when it cannot be obtained without the State's cooperation.
The State controls the means to verify acts occurring within its territory. Although the Commission has investigatory powers, it cannot exercise them within a State's jurisdiction unless it has the cooperation of that State. (Velásquez Rodríguez Case, supra 63, paras. 135-136; Godínez Cruz Case, supra 63, paras. 141-142).
197. This standard for the allocation of procedural burdens is deduced from the particular regime of international protection of human rights put in place by the American Convention. The Inter-American Court has said:
... the Convention must be seen for what in reality it is: a multilateral legal instrument or framework enabling States to make binding unilateral commitments not to violate the human rights of individuals within their jurisdiction.
198. With respect to the particular features of the system for defending human rights, the Inter-American Court has established that:
199. No doubt the standard for allocating the burden of proof reflects the particular aim pursued by the human rights regime set up by the American Convention, to strike a balance, during the procedure, between the different nature of the only two parties-in-interests, the individual and the State, in their purest form, so as to prevent unacceptable inclinations motivated by wealth and power.
200. To facilitate the analysis of each of the particular cases, the Commission believes a distinction should be drawn between the victims, considering the facts alleged in the file, the responses from the State to the Commission, and all other evidence available. The first group of victims is made up of those cases in which the complaint is founded on eyewitness testimony from several witnesses including the attackers themselves and members of the military who participated in the events of January 23 and 24, 1989. The second group, by way of contrast, includes those cases in which the violations alleged are based on the testimony of the attackers and the respective complaints brought before the Argentine judicial authorities, in addition to other information and data provided by the petitioners.
i. First Group: Allegations based on multiple direct testimony
Carlos Alberto Burgos and Roberto Sánchez
201. The complaint indicates that Carlos Alberto Burgos and Roberto Sánchez were executed in the guards' quarters (la guardia de prevención) within the La Tablada barracks. It cites the testimony given at the Abella trial of four soldiers (Aibar, Miranda, Medina, and Rojas) who recognized Burgos and Sánchez in photographs and stated that Burgos "was alive long after noon" (on January 23, 1989). The same persons recognized Roberto Sánchez, who allegedly surrendered with a serious injury. Roberto Sánchez, like Burgos, is listed by the Argentine authorities as having been "killed in combat."
202. The Commission believes that the information available in the file is sufficient to establish that Carlos Alberto Burgos and Roberto Sánchez were taken alive and were under the custody of agents of the Argentine State after surrendering on January 23, 1989. Consequently, they were fully covered by the rights protected in the American Convention and by Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. This assertion with respect to Burgos and Sánchez is based on the coincident testimony in the Abella trial of the four members of the military and several of the attackers. Moreover, as discussed infra, the serious accusation concerning the executions of Burgos and Sánchez was not properly investigated in the domestic jurisdiction of Argentina, and the Argentine authorities did not take the steps necessary to determine the cause of death of these two persons. Therefore, and bearing in mind that the State --which has the burden of refuting the petitioners' allegations--maintained an absolute procedural silence with respect to those allegations, the Commission finds that there are sufficient grounds to conclude that Carlos Alberto Burgos and Roberto Sánchez were taken alive and then executed extrajudicially by agents of the Argentine State in violation of Article 4 of the American Convention.
Iván Ruiz and José Alejandro Díaz
203. The videotape provided by the petitioners shows the arrest of two persons whom they affirm are Iván Ruiz and José Alejandro Díaz. According to the complaint, the same soldiers who testified that they had seen Burgos and Sánchez alive after the surrender recognized Iván Ruiz and José Alejandro Díaz as detainees who were in the custody of an officer by the last name of Nacelli. Nacelli testified at the Abella trial that he had detained Ruiz and Díaz and turned them over to a corporal by the name of Steigman, whom he witnessed take them, at rifle-point, into the barracks. They were then in the custody of Major Varanda, who in turn declared he had delivered them to a non-commissioned officer by the name of Esquivel. Esquivel is on the list of persons killed in the confrontation; because of this, Varanda presumes that Ruiz and Díaz had fled. General Arrillaga, commander in the re-capture of the barracks, explained that they likely escaped when taken to the infirmary, accompanied by a soldier. This theory was described as "fantastic" by the petitioners, since at the time of the surrender the military unit was surrounded by some 3,500 members of the security forces.
204. It was established in the Abella case, based on the similar testimony of the attackers and members of the military, that both Ruiz and Díaz were taken alive by the State agents who recaptured the RIM 3 barracks. Moreover, the videotape and press information from several media outlets that was supplied by the petitioners, depict the size of the security forces in charge of recapturing the barracks. In light of this information, the Commission cannot accept the theory of the authorities according to which Ruiz and Díaz, who were unarmed and seriously wounded, escaped after having been in the custody of the military. In addition, despite the fact that it had the burden of disproving petitioners' claims regarding Díaz and Ruiz's fate, the Argentine State was absolutely silent on this issue. Accordingly, the Commission finds that there is sufficient grounds to conclude that Iván Ruiz and José Alejandro Díaz were taken alive and later executed, after having been in the custody and exclusive control of the members of the military who re-took the RIM 3 barracks at La Tablada.
ii. Second Group: Allegations based on Direct Testimony and Presumptions
205. In contrast to the first group of persons, in respect of which the Commission considers the facts proven, the second group consists of those cases in which disputes or doubts could arise as to the circumstances of and responsibility for the deaths or injuries to the persons involved. To reach a determination as to these allegations of fact, the Commission must first establish whether it is possible to affirm, with support, that the persons included in the second group were taken alive and thereby came under the control and custody of State agents, who had the absolute obligation to provide them humane treatment and to prevent them from suffering any harm. In that case, the Commission must determine whether the State, in violation of this duty, unlawfully deprived these persons of their lives.
Carlos Samojedny, Francisco Provenzano, Berta Calvo, Pablo Martín Ramos, and Ricardo Veiga
206. The petitioners allege that Carlos Samojedny, Francisco Provenzano, Berta Calvo, Pablo Martín Ramos, and Ricardo Veiga were executed extrajudicially after surrendering to the Argentine security forces who recaptured the RIM 3 barracks. As in the case of the allegations of forced disappearances, the Argentine State did not respond to these accusations in any of its communications to the Commission.
207. The petitioners' complaint cites the testimony of several of the attackers who were tried in the Abella case which affirmed that Carlos Samojedny was taken alive by State agents, whom, they allege, beat him after he identified himself. The non-governmental organization Amnesty International undertook a detailed study of the events at La Tablada, whose relevant parts are used in this report. Amnesty International states the following regarding the case of Carlos Samojedny:
208. The complaint states that Francisco Provenzano was alive at the time of the surrender of the group of 13 attackers who were later put on trial, and that he allegedly was in the company of Díaz, Motto, and Veiga when they left through the door at the back of the building where they were. Four of the attackers tried in the Abella case so testified (Paz, Aguirre, Rodríguez, and S. Ramos). Motto and Veiga, who also were defendants in that case, made the same assertions in their statements before an investigative judge. Motto testified that he had seen Provenzano surrender alive, and that a soldier told him he had escaped; Claudio Omar Veiga declared that he had seen Provenzano surrounded by soldiers, and that he later heard a shot from a revolver with a silencer.
209. The official medical examiner's report of January 25, 1989, shows the cause of death of Francisco Provenzano as "total carbonization". Nonetheless, the forensic experts consulted by Amnesty International believe that in the case of Provenzano there were serious grounds for requesting a second autopsy. For example, there is a dental report on the lower jaw that suggests that at least part of his internal structure was still intact, making it possible to try to undertake some type of later examination. Although Provenzano's body was missing the upper jaw, the State's autopsy did not make reference to that fact; nonetheless, there is a dental report only for the lower jaw.
210. The complaint further states that Berta Calvo was also found alive, though wounded, at 9:00 a.m. on January 24, 1989. The petitioners' claim is based on what was said by attacker José Alejandro Moreyra, who stated in the Abella case that he had seen her "during a moment when her hood came off." Other companions of hers were alleged to have made similar statements. The petitioners also allege that those persons heard her voice while she was being tortured to death by her captors.
211. Also according to the complaint, Pablo Martín Ramos was taken alive and later executed by State agents. His corpse, which was identified by relatives, had eight bullet wounds to the body and one to the head. Another item of evidence provided by the petitioners is a photograph of a person holding his hands up at the time of the surrender at La Tablada, whom they allege to be Pablo Martín Ramos. It should be noted that the image bears some similarity to the features and physical appearance of Ramos, when compared with another photograph of him taken shortly before the attack, which petitioners sent to the Commission. These photographs were published by several press outlets in Argentina and other countries.
212. With respect to Ricardo Veiga, the complaint indicates that he was in the part of the La Tablada barracks known as the "Guardia de Prevención," or guards' quarters, and that he jumped from there when fire caused the roof to collapse at 4:00 p.m. on January 23, 1989. It then adds that he was "shot down before the television cameras."
213. The Commission considers the above mentioned testimony on the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Carlos Samojedny, Francisco Provenzano, Berta Calvo, Pablo Martín Ramos, and Ricardo Veiga, to be persuasive and notes that it was not met by any objection by the State. Taken together with a series of other relevant facts and circumstances, this testimony permits the Commission to conclude that these persons were taken alive by State agents, and that they remained under the control and custody of those agents.
214. First, it should be noted that the situation described in the above cited testimony is consistent with acts carried out by State agents at the scene of the events, after the attackers surrendered, which the Commission has accepted as fully proven in the cases of the first group of attackers. In this regard, the videotape provided by the petitioners has some very revealing parts. During the operation to recapture the barracks, the videotape shows a scene in which two attackers are taken into custody by the military. Although it is difficult to identify the prisoners due to the distance, one can clearly hear the members of the military who are alongside the cameraman shouting the following words:
Don't shoot, they're our people! Don't shoot, damn it! If there's any leftist we'll kill him later!
They've killed our own, kill them!
215. The same filmed material includes an interview with General Arrillaga, commander of the forces that recaptured the La Tablada barracks, who states that "... the operation for recapture is a tactical operation. The tactical maneuver is the use of the material resources, of the terrain, of the whole situation, and seeks to annihilate the enemy."
216. The Commission is mindful that the Argentine State, adopting the same attitude as it did before the local courts, has never answered or made any statement, oral or written, regarding the allegations that the human rights of the persons mentioned were violated. The testimony and evidence provided, plus the presumptions mentioned, paint a well-defined circumstantial picture that enables the Commission to affirm that Carlos Samojedny, Francisco Provenzano, Berta Calvo, Pablo Martín Ramos, and Ricardo Veiga were taken alive by agents of the Argentine State and that they remained under the control and custody of those agents for an undetermined period.
217. The Commission must now determine whether Carlos Samojedny, Francisco Provenzano, Berta Calvo, Pablo Martín Ramos, and Ricardo Veiga were unlawfully deprived of their lives in those circumstances. For the purposes of providing a legal framework for that determination, the Commission highlights once again that the State had the burden of refuting the allegation as to a violation of the right to life, based on the relationship of control and custody between the State agents and the persons mentioned, from the moment the latter surrendered.
218. The testimony of several attackers indicates that the persons mentioned, after having been taken prisoner, were executed by State agents. The testimony of these witnesses are presented as credible, and have not met with the objection of the Argentine State in its communications with the Commission. Furthermore, the Argentine State has not undertaken an effective investigation to clear up the allegations. Therefore, and taking into account the absolute silence on the part of the State, which had the burden of proof as to this aspect of the complaint, the Commission concludes that there are sufficient grounds to find that Carlos Samojedny, Francisco Provenzano, Berta Calvo, Pablo Martín Ramos, and Ricardo Veiga were summarily executed by agents of the Argentine State.
Juan Manuel Murúa
219. Following the petitioners' account, on the afternoon of January 23, 1989 a part of the barracks known as "Company B," where Juan Manuel Murúa was situated, was hit with cannon fire. Roberto Felicetti testified that he had been there at that time with Murúa and Roberto Vital Gaguine, and that neither of them could escape the collapse of the upper floor caused by the cannon blast. The survivors looked for the bodies of Murúa and Gaguine the next morning, but did not find them. Gaguine's corpse was later identified by his relatives. Murúa's corpse, however, was never found. This is why the petition alleges that he was disappeared.
220. The Commission must establish whether the information mentioned makes it possible to determine that Juan Manuel Murúa was taken alive and brought under the control and custody of State agents. Even though the State has not undertaken an effective investigation to clarify the circumstances surrounding Murúa's fate, nor has it provided information in that regard during the processing of this case--its silence, once again, was absolute--the Commission considers that these presumptions are not sufficiently backed by other evidence. In effect, the mere circumstance that the corpse of the person who was with Murúa was identified and that, in contrast, Murúa's corpse was never found, is not enough to show that Murúa was taken alive and brought under the control and custody of State agents. Given the lack of other evidence, such as testimony of his arrest or that he had survived after the surrender, the Commission is not able to conclude that Juan Manuel Murúa was executed by agents of the Argentine State.
iii. Treatment of Survivors and Accomplices
221. The petitioners also allege that agents of the Argentine State committed several violations of the right to personal integrity to the detriment of the attackers who surrendered January 24, 1989 at 9:00 a.m., and of the five accomplices arrested the previous day and those who gave up voluntarily in the following days.
222. The complaint states that once under the control of the members of the security forces, the survivors were stripped, hooded, and subjected to an ideological interrogation accompanied by physical and psychological torture. It also states that on Wednesday, January 25, at dawn they received medical care, but that the torture continued, even in the prison ward of the hospital.
223. The complaint further alleges that the violations of the physical integrity of the accused continued each time they were transferred to the court building during the trial. On those occasions, they were allegedly hooded and subjected to beatings the while in transit. The complaint refers specifically to the cases of Sebastián Joaquín Ramos, Claudio Néstor Rodríguez, Claudio Omar Veiga, Luis Alberto Díaz, and Carlos Motto, who were taken before the judge after having been brutally beaten; they allege that such treatment continued in the judge's presence, until he ordered the persons responsible to stop.
224. The information gathered by Amnesty International on this aspect of the complaint is especially revealing: a comparison of the medical reports for the detainees on January 24 and 28, 1989, shows that the number of injuries had dramatically increased during this period, when they had been deprived of their liberty and were under the exclusive control of agents of the Argentine State. The following table reflects the comparisons from that report, and is convincing evidence of the violations of personal integrity of the five petitioners mentioned.
Number of injuries
225. Sebastián Joaquín Ramos told the judge how a hood was placed over his head, and how he was beaten and kicked, including where he had bullet wounds, until the moment the judge appeared; the judge ordered the guards to remove the handcuffs and hood. The medical report for January 28, 1989, indicates that Sebastián Ramos had multiple wounds all over his body, as well as injuries and abrasions that indicated that he had been dragged along the ground. For reasons of competence, the complaint regarding these events was processed before another court. The judge assigned the case decided to dismiss it on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to press charges against individuals responsible for the alleged ill-treatment, nor even to determine that the events had occurred while Sebastián Ramos was in the hands of the police or prison authorities. The judgment of dismissal issued October 25, 1989, cites police officials who declared at trial that they had seen the five detainees "hooded and handcuffed." The judge concluded:
226. Continuing, the same judge stated:
... (b) Nor can I find torture or application of torment, as these require procedures that cause intense physical or emotional pain, which distinguishes them from simple harsh treatment or insults, since a finding of torture requires "sufficient gravity."
(c) It also appears from the record that it has not been possible to determine the individual or individuals perpetrating such suffering, nor those who ordered those characteristics of the detention.
Abella, Burgos, Molina, Faldutti, and Gabioud
227. The complaint alleges that the five persons arrested at 7:00 p.m. on January 23, 1989 were also insulted, beaten, and threatened at the police station where they were held. It is further alleged that they were then injected with a substance that made them lose all notion of time, after which the torture and an ideological interrogation continued. These events were alleged to have recurred several times, together with the refusal by State agents to provide food to Abella and Gabioud until January 27, 1989.
Puigjané and Castro
228. Capuchin priest Juan Antonio Puigjané came before the court on January 30, 1989, and was detained and held incommunicado. The complaint indicates that he was subjected to an ideological interrogation amidst insults, accusations, and threats. It is further alleged that he was then left without water or food for 30 hours, until the investigative judge took his statement. When the accused denounced the above noted violations, the judge allegedly justified the police actions. The complaint also indicates that Cintia Alejandra Castro, the other member of the MTP who came voluntarily before the court, was subjected to the same human rights violations as Puigjané and the others.
229. In the Abella case, the defense attorneys filed several allegations and criminal complaints based on these facts, which affected the twenty persons indicted in the case. The petitioners point out that the complaints were the subject of separate trials which they call "parallel proceedings". The only reference the State makes to these violations alleged before the Commission is to indicate that the respective cases were dismissed, and that the decision to dismiss them was not appealed by the defense attorneys. The Commission expressly notes that this circumstance did not release the State of its obligation under the American Convention to investigate the grave acts alleged. It should be noted in this connection that under Argentine law, these offenses are public criminal actions, and therefore may be prosecuted by the Public Ministry on its own initiative.
230. The Commission reiterates what it previously stated in this report with respect to the burden of proof, which in this case too was clearly borne by the State, as these persons were under the control and exclusive custody of State agents. The Commission takes into consideration the failure of the State to respond to all the serious allegations of torture, as well as an apparent lack of will on the part of the State to conduct an exhaustive investigation to identify the perpetrators, even though the judicial organs in the so-called "parallel proceedings" verified that the defendants had been seriously mistreated. In effect, the judgment of October 25, 1989, determined that the five detainees named suffered "insults, harsh treatment, or lesions" when under the control of the State, but the judge, invoking domestic law, ruled that there were no illegal pressure tactics or torture, and consequently decided to dismiss the case.
231. In view of the foregoing, the Commission considers fully proven that Luis Alberto Díaz, Claudio Néstor Rodríguez, Claudio Omar Veiga and Sebastián Joaquín Ramos were tortured by agents of the State after they had been captured inside the military base at La Tablada. The Commission also notes that the twenty persons accused in the Abella case, including those arrested outside the military base and later convicted as accomplices, were detained in the same places and were under the control of the same authorities. The petition alleges that they were all tortured --a charge which was not rebutted by the State in any of is communications to the Commission.
232. Accordingly, the Commission finds that the twenty persons convicted in the Abella case in connection with the attack on the barracks at La Tablada, including their accomplices, were subjected to torture by agents of the Argentine State, in violation of Article 5(2) of the American Convention, which provides:
233. The concept of torture has been complemented and broadened by the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture, which provides in its Article 2:
234. The Argentine State had the obligation to investigate exhaustively the serious allegations of violations of human rights protected by the American Convention, and by the Constitution and laws of Argentina, made by the defense attorneys of the accused in the Abella case.
235. At the outset of this part of the report, the Commission established that once those persons who participated in the attack on the La Tablada base surrendered to or were captured by State agents, they came within the power and custody of those agents. The State had a duty under the American Convention to treat these persons humanely and to protect them from harm. The attackers' alleged accomplices were similarly entitled to the same guarantees when they were detained by and remained in the custody of State agents. When petitioners allege and adduce evidence supporting violations of the rights of these persons in breach of that duty, the State has the burden of refuting those allegations with credible evidence.
236. It is the Commission's view that the Argentine State has manifestly failed to discharge its burden in this regard. In effect, the information it provided to the Commission in this respect was limited to stating that the defendants did not appeal the decisions to dismiss the cases opened to investigate these allegations, and consequently they became final. The Commission notes that the jurisprudence of the inter-American human rights system holds precisely to the contrary, i.e., that the obligation to investigate is a legal duty of the State and not as a step taken by private interests.
237. The Commission observes that, in any event, the information required could not be supplied, as all the items of written evidence in the file point to the fact that no serious and complete investigation was undertaken in Argentina on the allegations mentioned. In effect, there is sufficient evidence to indicate that there was general negligence in the handling of the issue by the State's representatives.
238. The Commission considers one of the most noteworthy shortcomings in the investigation into the events at La Tablada to be the autopsies and the handling of the corpses of the attackers in the hours and days following the recapture of the barracks. Amnesty International had access to several autopsies of the persons killed at La Tablada (two soldiers, one police officer, and six attackers from the MTP), which were analyzed by forensic experts. The conclusions of one of the experts indicate that there was no description of the investigations where the events unfolded, nor were photographs of the corpses attached. In general, the autopsies of the attackers that were studied do not offer information as to the precise nature of the injuries. The autopsies also lack information indicating whether other injuries, fractures, and burns preceded or followed death, which would make it possible to determine their gravity. In general, the autopsies on the corpses of the attackers are notably shorter than those of the members of the military who were also killed in connection with the same events.
239. In addition, the videotape provided by the petitioners focuses on the issue of the corpses abandoned at the place of the events; one such corpse was covered by insects several days after the attack. The petitioners believe that this is part of a deliberate tactic aimed at ensuring that the autopsies were incomplete and deficient.
240. Another expert consulted by Amnesty International indicated that a close study of the autopsies reveals that they were superficial and inadequate. The autopsy reports make reference to the putrefaction of the corpses to justify the omission of certain items of evidence and descriptions, which technically is not acceptable. The expert concludes that putrefaction does not preclude toxicology tests, which can be performed weeks and years after death. The external examinations are limited to a description of the injuries caused by projectiles or burns, but there is no reference to other injuries, contusions, or hematomas, that could have occurred during the combat or after the surrender.
241. The conclusions of the second expert also indicate that the dental reports that were performed are not compared to dental records prior to death, and so are of little use. In several cases, the reports given by the forensic pathologists and radiologists are inconsistent. For example, the radiology report indicates that "there are no signs of projectiles and/or damage to bones" in the full-body X-rays, and in that case the forensic pathologists determined that there were multiple fractures along with bullet wounds.
242. Some of the bodies of the soldiers and attackers were carbonized, making it difficult to identify the corpses. In view of these difficulties, an international commission of forensic pathologists offered the Argentine State the services of experts to conduct the autopsies; this offer was rejected by the Office of the Attorney General.
243. In view of all the evidence brought forth by the defense attorneys in Argentina, the testimony of the persons put on trial and of members of the military, as well as other available evidence, the Commission believes that the State failed in its obligation to carry out an exhaustive, impartial, and conclusive investigation into the serious allegations of violations of the human rights protected by the American Convention. Consequently, the State has not yet clarified what took place after the attackers surrendered at RIM 3 in La Tablada, nor have the persons responsible for the violations alleged been identified or punished. The State has failed in its duty to provide the victims with a simple and effective remedy that would protect them against such violations, as set forth in Article 25(1) of the American Convention.
v. Common Conclusions
244. Under Article 1(1) of the American Convention, the Argentine State undertook "to respect the rights and freedoms recognized herein and to ensure to all persons subject to their jurisdiction the free and full exercise of those rights and freedoms...." With respect to this provision, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has determined as follows:
The second obligation of the States Parties is to "ensure" the free and full exercise of the rights recognized by the Convention to every person subject to its jurisdiction. This obligation implies the duty of the States Parties to organize the governmental apparatus and, in general, all the structures through which public power is exercised, so that they are capable of juridically ensuring the free and full enjoyment of human rights. As a consequence of this obligation, the States must prevent, investigate and punish any violation of the rights recognized by the Convention....
245. Based on the arguments and evidence analyzed, the Commission concludes that the Argentine State is responsible for the violation of the right to life set forth in Article 4, in relation to Article 1(1) of the American Convention, with respect to Carlos Alberto Burgos, Roberto Sánchez, Iván Ruiz, José Alejandro Díaz, Carlos Samojedny, Francisco Provenzano, Berta Calvo, Pablo Martín Ramos, and Ricardo Veiga.
246. The Commission also concludes that the Argentine State is responsible for the violation of the right to physical integrity protected by Article 5, in relation to Article 1(1) of the American Convention, to the detriment of Claudia Beatriz Acosta, Miguel Angel Aguirre, Luis Alberto Díaz, Roberto Felicetti, Isabel Margarita Fernández de Mesutti, Gustavo Alberto Mesutti, José Alejandro Moreyra, Carlos Ernesto Motto, Sergio Manuel Paz, Luis Darío Ramos, Sebastián Joaquín Ramos, Claudio Néstor Rodríguez, and Claudio Omar Veiga, Juan Antonio Puigjané, Dora Esther Molina de Felicetti, Miguel Angel Faldutti, Daniel Alberto Gabioud Almirón, Juan Manuel Burgos, Cintia Alejandra Castro, and Juan Carlos Abella.
247. Finally, the Commission concludes that the Argentine State has violated the right to judicial protection guaranteed by Article 25(1), in relation to Article 1(1) of the American Convention, with respect to the persons identified in the two previous paragraphs.
C. THE TRIAL
248. In this case, the petitioners have alleged several violations of the right to due process, invoking Articles 8 and 25 of the American Convention. The complaints have been summarized at the outset of this report, and refer to the totality of the Abella case, from the beginning of the investigation, primarily in respect of the following aspects: the legal classification of the facts, the competent judge, the petitioners' characterization of the trial as "political and repressive", the taking of the evidence, the lack of any investigation into the complaints of human rights violations made by the accused due to the ineffectiveness of what are called "parallel proceedings", the right to be presumed innocent, the right to defense, and the right to appeal to a higher court.
249. The Commission considers that the complaints with respect to the alleged violations of the American Convention's due process provisions (Articles 8 and 25) are closely related to the alleged violation of the right to appeal the ruling to a higher judge or court. In effect, had petitioners been able as a matter of right to appeal their convictions to a higher court, that court could have been able to establish the existence of the due process violations alleged by petitioners and ordered appropriate relief. Accordingly, the Commission will limit its examination of petitioners' due process claims to a specific issue that affected all the defendants in the Abella case: whether they were afforded the right to appeal their convictions to a higher court as required by Article 8(2)(h) of the American Convention.
The right to appeal the judgment to a higher court (Article 8(2)(h))
250. Article 8 of the American Convention establishes the requirements that should be observed during the various procedural stages to be able to speak of authentic and appropriate judicial guarantees. According to the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court, Article 8
251. The inter-American system, like the European system, has a provision that develops the procedural guarantees for the accused because of the conviction of States that the effective protection of human rights requires procedural guarantees, in addition to the observance of substantive rights.
252. One essential aspect of due process is the right to have a higher court examine or re-examine the legality of all judicial decisions that result in an irreparable harm or when that harm affects fundamental rights and liberties, such as personal liberty. Due process of law would lack efficacy without the right of defense in a trial and the opportunity to defend oneself against an adverse decision.
253. Article 8(2)(h) of the American Convention provides that:
254. The Commission will proceed to examine whether remedies under Argentine law available to the defendants in the Abella case effectively permitted them to seek review of their convictions by a higher court. In so doing, the Commission must focus on and ultimately define the scope and content of this right enshrined in Article 8(2)(h) of the American Convention. In this regard, the Commission had the opportunity to consider the same issue in Case 11.086, with respect to Guillermo Maqueda, who was convicted and given a 10-year prison sentence for his alleged involvement in the attack on the RIM 3 barracks at La Tablada. Because the issue concerning the alleged violation of Article 8(2)(h) in this case is virtually identical to that in the Maqueda case, the Commission in its analysis of this issue will draw heavily from its decision in Maqueda.
255. Guillermo Maqueda was a member of the MTP, and was in the immediate area around the La Tablada barracks on January 23, 1989. He was arrested four months after the attack, tried under Law 23.077, and convicted on June 11, 1990. Maqueda filed a special appeal ("recurso extraordinario"), which was denied by the Federal Court of Appeals of San Martín on October 25, 1990. Consequently, he filed an appeal directly before the Supreme Court ("recurso de queja"), which dismissed it on March 17, 1992.
256. In the processing of Case 11.086, the Commission adopted report 17/94 at its Session 1222 on February 9, 1994. In that report, the Commission determined that the Argentine State had violated, among other rights, the right to appeal to a higher court, set forth at Article 8(2)(h), together with the judicial guarantees provided for in Article 25. The Commission submitted the case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights once the period set in the report had elapsed without the recommendations having been carried out. Finally, the case was settled under the friendly settlement procedure: Mr. Maqueda had his sentence commuted by the State of Argentina, and was thereby released from prison. The Commission filed to voluntarily dismiss the case before the Inter-American Court; that motion was granted by resolution of January 17, 1995.
257. In must be noted that the Argentine Constitution in force during the Abella case did not provide for access to either split-level or multiple-level courts (i.e. some sort of review), nor did it determine the jurisdiction of the federal courts. Therefore, in principle, the cases in the federal courts could be governed by Congressional statute with or without review. The result of this situation was that the constitutional guarantee of due process and the right of defense at trial did not require the right of review. While the right of review was not, in and of itself, a constitutional requirement at the time of the Abella trial, it should be noted that the American Convention, when approved by Law 23.054 and ratified by the Argentine State on September 5, 1984, became the supreme law of the nation, pursuant to Article 31 of the Constitution then in force.
258. In the instant case, the petitioners had only one opportunity to be heard and to present their case. They were tried under the procedural provisions of Law 23.077, which creates a special criminal procedure that does not include an appeal or a broad remedy before any appellate court. Nonetheless, it does allow for the special appeal (recurso extraordinario) provided for in Article 14 of Law 48.
259. The Commission now sets forth its views concerning the purpose and characteristics of the right enshrined in Article 8(2)(h). The American Convention, in contrast to the European Convention on Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, provides ample protection of the right to appeal. The Commission views this remedy as a means of benefitting the accused, so as to protect his rights by providing a new opportunity to exercise his defense. The remedy against the definitive judgment is aimed at offering the opportunity to one who has been affected by an unfavorable decision to seek to overturn the judgment and have the matter reviewed. The purpose of the review is to ensure the decision is a rational outcome of a fair trial, pursuant to the law and guarantees, and of the proper application of the criminal law.
260. The State tried to justify the nature of Law 23.077 by citing the basic principles of the draft legislation that was submitted to the Congress, and by referring to the improvements in the justice system. Notwithstanding the broader guarantees provided by the oral hearing procedure, insofar as it constitutes an opportunity for the issues to be debated and confronted, the right of the accused to appeal to a second instance in the criminal procedure strengthens the protection against judicial error.
261. The Commission observes that Article 8(2)(h) refers to the minimum characteristics of a remedy that serves as a check to ensure a proper ruling in both substantive and formal terms. From the formal standpoint the right to appeal the judgment to a higher court to which the American Convention refers should, in the first place, apply to every first instance judgment with the purpose of examining the unlawful application, the lack of application, or the erroneous interpretation of rules of law based on the operative part of the judgment. The Commission also considers that to guarantee the full right of defense, this remedy should include a material review of the interpretation of procedural rules that may have influenced the decision in the case when there has been an incurable nullity or where the right to defense was rendered ineffective, and also with respect to the interpretation of the rules on the weighing of evidence, whenever they have led to an erroneous application or non-application of those rules.
262. Based on the foregoing, the right provided for in Article 8(2)(h) requires the availability of a remedy that would at least allow for review by a higher court of questions of law and of all the major procedural rulings. Such review is especially relevant with respect to those rulings that may result in defenselessness or cause irreparable damage in the final judgment, including the legality of the evidence. The remedy should also allow the higher court a relatively simple means to examine the validity of the judgment appealed in general, as well as to monitor the respect for fundamental rights of the accused, especially the right of defense and the right to due process.
263. Accordingly, the Commission must examine the nature of the special appeal provided for in Law 48, the only one available under Law 23.077, in order to determine whether that appeal constitutes an effective tool for putting in practice the right recognized by article 8(2)(h) of the American Convention.
264. In the Argentine legal order, the special appeal is exceptional, and is limited to the federal jurisdiction. As such, it is not a procedural level that is added on to every trial, but rather it operates as a new but reduced and partial procedural level that is limited to federal subject matter in the case of arbitrary judgments. In the final instance, the special appeal exists to ensure constitutional supremacy.
265. In general, the Supreme Court of Justice of Argentina interprets the application of the special appeal as of restricted scope. In its denial of the complaint appeal filed by the defendants in the Abella case, the Supreme Court held:
266. The special appeal in the Abella case was founded on the alleged nullity of the proceedings due to the irregularities of the proceedings, the interpretation of Article 21 of the Constitution, the legal analysis of the facts, and finally, the weighing of the evidence, which the defense considered arbitrary. In this regard, it should be mentioned that in its judgment in the Maqueda case, handed down the same day as the previous case, the Supreme Court explained:
267. In the Argentine legal system the arbitrariness of a judgment is considered a federal question, and thus susceptible to review only by special appeal. It should be noted, as has already been said, that this remedy is interpreted narrowly, and consequently the arbitrariness of a judgment will not be considered solely on the ground the judgment is in error, or because its grounds may be called into question.
268. The Federal Court of Appeals explained as follows in its denial of the special appeal brought by Mr. Maqueda:
269. Based on the foregoing, it is clear that the special appeal does not have the purpose of remedying decisions supposedly in error, but only extremely serious omissions or blunders. Bearing in mind that the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court holds that the special appeal does not encompass a review of the procedure, and that the doctrine of arbitrariness imposes a particularly narrow criterion for analyzing its applicability, in practice the special remedy does not allow for legal review by a higher court of the decision or of all important procedural rulings, including the sufficiency and legality of the evidence, nor does it allow for examining the validity of the judgment appealed in a relatively simple fashion. It is a remedy of limited scope, available only on an exceptional basis, whose application is narrow, and therefore it does not satisfy the guarantee whereby the accused may challenge the judgment.
270. The April 7, 1995 judgment of the Supreme Court of Argentina in the case of Horacio David Giroldi (No. 32/93) --decided after it had rejected the special appeal in the Abella case-- is particularly relevant to issue under examination. At that trial, Mr. Giroldi had been convicted by a Criminal Court ("Tribunal Oral en lo Criminal") and given a one-month prison sentence, which was suspended, for the crime of attempted simple robbery. The defense brought a writ of cassation ("recurso de casación"), arguing that the decision violated the right of defense at trial, and that the procedural limitation on the exercise of the remedy, in view of the amount of the penalty, was unconstitutional. The National Chamber of Criminal Cassation ("Cámara Nacional de Casación Penal") rejected the argument of unconstitutionality and denied the motion for cassation. The defense brought a special appeal against that decision, the denial of which led to a complaint appeal before the Supreme Court of Justice of Argentina. The Supreme Court ruled favorably on the complaint appeal, and rendered without effect the judgment appealed, citing as the basis for its decision the guarantee at Article 8(2)(h) of the American Convention.
271. In the judgment in the Giroldi case, the Supreme Court stated:
272. In the particular circumstances of this case, the special appeal was not an effective instrument to guarantee the right to appeal a judgment before a higher court to challenge the decision of the Federal Court of Appeals of San Martín.
273. Based on its analysis, the Commission considers that the special appeal, the only remedy available against judgments issued pursuant to the procedure established in Law 23.077, does not satisfy the requirements set forth in Article 8(2)(h) of the American Convention. Consequently, the application of the special criminal procedure provided for by Law 23.077, in this case, was a violation of the petitioners' right to appeal the judgment to a higher court as required by the Convention. The effect of that circumstance was that the petitioners tried in the Abella case did not have access to an effective remedy that protected them from acts violative of their fundamental rights; accordingly, the Commission concludes that the Argentine State is also responsible for violating Article 25(1) of the American Convention with respect to those persons.
C. THE ALLEGED VIOLATION OF THE RIGHT
TO PERSONAL LIBERTY (Article 7(5))
274. The petitioners charge violation of the personal liberty of the accused persons in the Abella case as a result of the duration of the legal process, which they consider excessive. As a result of that assertion, they indicate that at the beginning of the procedure there was "unjustified speed" since a total of 252 days passed from the moment of the events to the judgment, which they believe insufficient time considering the complexity of the case. They contrast that speed with the Supreme Court's delay in resolving the special appeal, which took almost two years.
275. Article 7(5) of the Convention provides as follows:
276. An examination of the terms of the complaint indicates that the fundamental issue does not center on the delay of the proceedings as a whole, but on the comparison between the amount of time it took the Supreme Court of Justice to rule and the unjustly fast process, as they see it, in the San Martín Federal Court.
277. The Commission cannot confine itself to examining only one of the procedural stages at the domestic level but must determine if the amount of time lapsed between the moment of deprivation of liberty and the sentencing was reasonable. In the present case, the accused persons were judged by the organ as determined by Argentine law and the pertinent judgment was handed down in less than one year. The petitioners themselves emphasize the speed with which the San Martín Federal Court ruled and it is thus obvious that there was no delay on the part of this body, but just the opposite.
278. In its report No. 12/96, the Commission held:
279. Law 24390 in effect in Argentina since November 21, 1994 provides that preventive detention may not exceed two years, but that this term could be extended by one year through a reasoned resolution if "the quantity of criminal offenses charged to the accused person or the obvious complexity of the charges made it difficult to complete the process within the aforementioned time." That law was adopted after the trial in the Abella case was over. It established the benefit whereby each day spent in preventive detention without a first instance conviction, is counted double to determine the total time served.
280. Even if one took the general term of two years as the limit for the legitimate duration of preventive detention, the complaint regarding violation of the right to personal freedom of the accused persons in the Abella case is groundless. The petition indicates that this was a complex case, as is obviously clear from the facts, the quantity and the nature of criminal offenses investigated. However, the amount of time these persons were detained without being judged in the original instance was 252 days. The Commission takes into account the reasoning given above to determine that in this case there has been no violation of Article 7(5) of the American Convention.
E. THE ALLEGED VIOLATION OF THE RIGHT
TO EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW (Article 24)
281. The petitioners allege a violation of Article 24 of the American Convention, which sets forth the right to equality before the law. This assertion is based on the different treatment accorded civilians and members of the military, in like situations, by the State. They seek to draw a parallel between the treatment that was and still is being given to the members of the military involved in the episodes of December 3, 1990, in Argentina, and the situation of those convicted in the Abella case. The petitioners therefore argue that the crime committed by the attackers on the La Tablada barracks was classified by the Argentine judicial organs as rebellion, while other comparable military offenses, which the petitioners describe as more dangerous for constitutional stability, merited the legal classifications of simple riots, or infractions of military discipline. Similarly, the petitioners State that there is a dual interpretation of the criminal definition of illicit association, as it is not applied to members of the military but is applied to civilians when they play an active role in similar activities.
282. The petitioners also compare their situation with that of the officers who benefitted from Law 23.521, and against whom charges were dropped by application of the due obedience exemption, and the situation of the members of the military who were pardoned by the Chief Executive in the use of his attributes under the Constitution. They also affirm that Father Juan Antonio Puigjané was subjected to discriminatory treatment for being a priest who upheld what is known as Liberation Theology, and describe notable differences between the prison conditions of the civilians tried under Law 23.077 and the members of the military convicted under the same law for their participation in the events of December 1990. The petitioners recount that the persons involved in the events of December 1990 are in special prisons despite having been convicted of common crimes, and are subject to a prison regime that enables them to spend most of the time away from the prison, to go out regularly to work and receive various medical services, to engage in political activities, to enjoy special permits for family matters, and to pursue university studies.
283. The Argentine State disputes what was said regarding the discriminatory treatment to which Antonio Puigjané was subjected, and transcribed part of the judgment handed down by the Federal Court of Appeals of San Martín, to the effect that the ideology of Puigjané was not at issue, and that only his concrete conduct was analyzed. It is also stated that the measures for dismissal of charges due to the application of the due obedience exemption set forth in Law 23.521 is not comparable to the situation of the persons convicted in the Abella case, since they were limited to episodes that occurred prior to the restoration of democratic government. Finally, in its answer the State highlights the discretional nature of the power to pardon, whose very nature removes it from the ambit of applicability of the principle of equality.
284. Article 24 of the American Convention provides for the equality of all persons before the law, guaranteeing the right to equal protection of the law without discrimination. The Inter-American Court has stated the following with respect to Article 24:
Accordingly, no discrimination exists if the difference in treatment has a legitimate purpose and if it does not lead to situations which are contrary to justice, to reason or to the nature of things. It follows that there would be no discrimination in differences of treatment of individuals by a State when the classifications selected are based on substantial factual differences and there exists a reasonable relationship of proportionality between these differences and the aims of the legal rule under review.
285. The Commission believes that the facts alleged by the petitioners as violative of the right to equality before the law depict factual situations that are not comparable for the purpose of arguing that such a violation occurred. In effect, the Commission agrees with the State in that the human rights violations committed by the military during that country's last dictatorship, and the events in the instant case, are not comparable, but completely different situations. As to the military who were indeed tried under Law 23.077, after democracy was reestablished, it must be noted that the offenses they were charged with were different from those in the Abella case, and as a result, the respective convictions are also different.
286. Therefore, the Commission considers that the facts alleged by the petitioners do not make out a violation of Article 24 of the American Convention.
287. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Commission cannot fail to take note of what the petitioners State concerning the prison conditions of the persons convicted in the Abella case who are confined in Ward One of the Caseros prison, in particular the limited and deficient medical care, confinement in small cells lacking the minimal conditions of health and hygiene, and the lack of food and medicine, provisions of which should be complemented by contributions from relatives. In this regard, Article 1(1) of the American Convention provides that the States have the obligation to respect and guarantee the rights and freedoms established in the American Convention
V. THE State'S OBSERVATIONS ON THE ARTICLE 50 REPORT
288. During its 96th session, the Commission approved report 22/97 in this case, pursuant to Article 50 of the American Convention; it was transmitted to the State on April 30, 1997, and the State was given a period of time to comply with the recommendations. After an extension, the State forwarded its response on August 29, 1997. The Commission shall proceed to summarize the main aspects of that document (hereinafter "the observations"), and addresses the matter in the conclusions to this report.
289. The State describes its position in the following terms:
"considerations of law that have not been adduced previously" for the purpose of assisting in the reconsideration of some of the conclusions reached in Confidential report 22/97.
290. The State also sets forth considerations on facts that the Commission has considered shown, in the understanding that underlying these are "legal criteria on admissibility, selection, and weighing of the evidence, essential issues of law for the mission of the IACHR." In that same document, the State makes the following clarification:
291. The State goes on to say that it is also aware that the Commission has accepted requests of this nature with respect to reports issued pursuant to Article 50 of the Convention. The State supports its Statement by citing decisions of the Inter-American Court, which had accepted the possibility of a request for reconsideration before the Commission
292. The State affirms that the issues of law formulated in the observations "are merely aimed at clearing the obstacles in the way of the objective truth." Later, the State sets forth "general considerations on the legal context of the analysis" in the chapter titled "Events Following the Surrender" (IV.B of this report). To that end, it analyzes the exhaustion of domestic remedies with respect to the allegations made regarding the so-called "parallel judicial proceedings," arguing that the denial of the appeal for review of facts as well as law (recurso de hecho) in the Abella case does not produce the effect attributed to it with respect to the other cases mentioned. The State affirms that in each of the related issues set forth in the complaint, a judicial proceeding was held, and that
293. In the specific cases of Ricardo Veiga, Roberto Sánchez, and Carlos Alberto Burgos, the State indicates that no complaints have been filed with the national courts.
294. The State also sets forth its disagreement with respect to the evidentiary value assigned by the Commission's report to the videotape provided by the petitioners, which reproduces footage from several television stations in Argentina.
295. With respect to the shifting of the burden of proof, the State considers that
296. The State also indicates that if it "had considered the offenses alleged as shown, and determined the responsibilities on the mere basis of the seriousness of the allegations," it would be violating the Constitution, as well as provisions of the domestic law of criminal procedure, and the American Convention itself with respect to criminal convicts, once again triggering international responsibility before the Commission. The State is of the view that the procedures of criminal law cannot be reviewed without considering the principles that govern them, however different they may be from the principles that are applied to international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
297. The State affirms that its concern over the events that occurred at La Tablada barracks goes beyond the proceedings in the Abella case. It considers that this is shown by the various cases brought to investigate each of the matters alleged by the persons tried in Abella. In addition, the State highlights that then-President Raúl Alfonsín went to the scene once the fighting had ended; he himself called for all the investigations to be centralized in the Office of the Attorney General of the Nation. The last part of this section of the State's observations mentions the allegation by the detainees that they had been hooded on their transfer to the courthouse, and that this situation was corrected with the intervention of the prosecuting judge.
298. The next section of the State's observations makes reference to the facts after the surrender at La Tablada barracks, which were set forth in Chapter IV.B of this report. The State's document contains a detailed analysis of the evidence used by the Commission to establish the facts of the case and its conclusions with respect to the allegations of disappearances, extrajudicial executions and torture of the attackers, and those convicted as accomplices in the Abella case; it also refers to multiple testimonies and additional evidence which would modify the conclusions set forth by the Commission in its report. Also as part of the evidence, the State presents a copy of Case No. 921 "Sosa, Juan Aníbal", a map of the Tablada barracks and surrounding areas, a map of the city of Buenos Aires, a list of the so-called "parallel proceedings", an audio tape named "The Truth on La Tablada" with the voice of Enrique Gorriarán Merlo, as well as a copy of the proceedings in the habeas corpus filed in favor of Carlos Samojedny.
299. The analysis of those elements by the State leads it to conclude that there is no evidence that Carlos Alberto Burgos and Roberto Sánchez had survived and were in the hands of the soldiers who retook the La Tablada barracks. The State affirms that said attackers had died in a fire in the guards' quarters (Guardia de Prevención) of the barracks. It adds that there was no special investigation of the events related to Burgos and Sánchez, but that neither was there any allegation in Argentina as to their detention and extrajudicial execution.
300. As for Iván Ruiz and José Alejandro Díaz, the State refers to the Statements by the soldiers and officers in the Abella case to note that Sergeant Esquivel, the last member of the military who was in charge of these attackers, died from a gunshot wound to the head. The State reconstructs the facts, which leads it to conclude that Ruiz and Díaz ceased to be under the custody and control of State agents at the time of the death of Esquivel. In addition, the State concludes that the circumstances of Esquivel's death would make it possible for Ruiz and Díaz to flee the barracks. The State also mentions the case of a person by the name of Fernando Falco, who allegedly participated in the attack but was detained some time later in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
301. The State also analyzes the situation of the attackers included by the Commission in a second group in this report, under heading IV.B.ii ("Allegations based on direct testimony and presumptions"). In the case of Berta Calvo, the State cites the testimony of four members of the military who participated in retaking the barracks, which led to the conclusion that she was badly wounded in the Non-Commissioned Officers' Club, that no one saw her leave alive with the rest, and that her death likely occurred there, from the shots fired by an officer during the combat when the attackers had taken one soldier as a hostage.
302. With respect to Francisco Provenzano, the State characterizes as "striking" the coincidences among the declarations of the attackers in the judicial case initiated to look into the allegations as to his execution, and highlights the fact that the accounts came almost three months after the events. The State contrasts this version with that given by Gorriarán Merlo and with the testimony of several members of the military and with the autopsy of Provenzano, and concludes that he died from burns during the combat.
303. The State continues its observations with respect to the case of Carlos Samojedny. It notes the fact that the attackers' allegations with respect to Samojedny were made almost three months after the first declarations in court. In addition, the State emphasizes that Cintia Castro, Samojedny's wife, did the same six months after the events. The State further points out that none of the attackers saw Samojedny, but that they heard his voice; and that the testimony of the members of the military makes no reference to his being taken alive or even to his presence in the barracks. The State concludes in this regard that the investigation by the judge was exhaustive, and that it did not make it possible to corroborate the allegation as to the circumstances of Samojedny's death.
304. In the case of Pablo Martín Ramos, the State points to the Statements made by his brother Sebastián Joaquín Ramos to the effect that he was wearing different clothes at the moment he surrendered. It also takes account of the Statements by several members of the military who affirmed that the person who appears in the photograph with his hands behind his head is likely a non-commissioned officer by the name of Walter Teófilo Sciares; Sciares, in turn, ratified what his colleagues had said, saying that he was forced to emerge among the attackers at the moment of the surrender. It concludes, therefore, that there is no basis for establishing that Pablo Martín Ramos surrendered alive at the La Tablada barracks.
305. According to the State, the allegation as to the shooting of Ricardo Veiga in front of the television cameras was never made before any Argentine court; nor does that sequence appear in the videotape provided by the petitioners. The State cites the declarations of several members of the military to argue that Veiga did not come out with them from the guards' quarters (Guardia de Prevención) within the La Tablada barracks, that he was not taken alive by State agents, and that did he not remain in the control and custody of such agents. The State concludes that Ricardo Veiga probably died in combat, while trying to avoid capture, which would be indicative of his active participation in the conflict.
306. In reference to the treatment given the survivors and accomplices, which this report analyzes in chapter IV.B.iii, the State focuses its observations on Case No. 921 ("Sosa, Juan Aníbal s/inf. Article 144 (V) of the Criminal Code"), in which the mistreatment of the attackers taken prisoner was to be investigated. In that case, according to the State, the detainees mention the testimony of some attackers who deny that they were beaten on the way from their place of detention to the courthouse. With respect to the number of blows that appear in the medical exam of detainees Sebastián Joaquín Ramos, Claudio Rodríguez, Claudio Veiga, Luis Díaz, and Carlos Motto (para. 224 supra), the State cites the declaration by the police officers who "... gave assurances that they had not used violence against the detainees at any time." The members of the Federal Penitentiary Service "... declare that they gave them proper treatment during the time they were held at City Hall." The State places special emphasis on the testimony that "there was great confusion due to the number of personnel at the place" (City Hall), and the prisoners remained there for a brief period of time until the judge arrived. The final result in the Sosa case was the dismissal with prejudice of the case against the accused of the same name on August 25, 1992. The State also affirmed that the injury as related to the legal definition of the events "is an issue outside of the competence of the IACHR."
307. The cases of those who were convicted as accomplices in the Abella case are analyzed by the State, beginning with Juan Antonio Puigjané. As regards the "illegal psychological pressures" that were alleged by the petitioners with respect to Puigjané, the State argues that "given their nature and characteristics, they are very difficult to show, as they leave no material trace." The State contrasts Puigjané's own Statement with petitioners' assertions with respect to the exact words allegedly used by the interrogating police officer to threaten the detainee, in order to question the veracity of the allegation. As to the allegation that Puigjané was deprived of water and food for 30 hours, the State notes that he made no such allegation in his declarations. Finally, the State emphasizes that Puigjané did not provide any information or evidence that identified any of the alleged perpetrators of the crime, nor did he appeal the decision to dismiss his case without prejudice.
308. With respect to Cintia Castro, the State reproduced the testimony of a police officer by the name of Julio César De los Ríos, who she identified as the person who directed the questioning. The police officer asserted that he only participated in the retaking of the barracks, and that he had no other contact with the detainees, whom he did not know. The State also highlights the fact that Castro filed her complaint, as well as the allegation concerning the execution of Carlos Samojedny, long after her detention.
309. The State goes on to address the allegations of the others who were convicted as accomplices, indicating that Juan Carlos Abella was unable to identify the persons who had subjected him to maltreatment, and that the report by a police physician at the San Alberto station concludes that "he does not display recently-inflicted bodily injuries." The same appears from the report prepared at the Villa Madero station. The report by the Office of the Medical Examiner (Cuerpo Médico Forense) of the Ministry of Justice included a diagnosis indicating that the pain Abella suffered in the shoulder "... was the result of exerting effort in a twisted position." The State then analyzes the cases of Faldutti, Molina, Gabioud Almirón, and Burgos, contrasting their testimony with the Statements by the police and the medical exams performed at the places of detention. This entire analysis leads the State to conclude that none of these persons was subjected to maltreatment while detained.
310. As for the other attackers, who all stated they had been stripped, hooded, and beaten at the barracks, the State points out that the medical exams performed on these persons reflect that they had "injuries inflicted by beating or impact against a hard object," and that they had "injuries caused by splinters or bullets." The State notes that all the medical reports (including those of the Federal Police and the Federal Penitentiary Service) coincide to the effect that all the injuries occurred within the 48 hours prior to January 24, 1989. It also notes the Statement by General Arrillaga to the effect that the detainees were stripped in the barracks "for the purpose of verifying that they did not possess any type of explosive device." The State concludes in its observations that it is not possible to affirm that the attackers' right to humane treatment was violated, and that the allegations of torture were investigated, but could not be confirmed.
311. The State continues its observations on the investigation into the facts alleged, and the so-called parallel proceedings. It reiterates its argument that during the processing of the case before the Commission "the petitioners assumed a passive attitude and failed to appeal the many decisions handed down in these cases." The State affirms that the facts alleged "find their only support in the assertions of the petitioners." The State calls into question the report by Amnesty International as not being conclusive, because of the way the information from the autopsies was used; and defends their results from the standpoint of toxicology, radiology, dactyloscopy, and odontology. The State justifies the State of putrefaction of the corpses by reference to the extreme heat and the length of the combat. The State concludes that "it is not possible to draw from the report by Amnesty International all of the conclusions claimed."
312. The judicial process is analyzed by the State, beginning with the alleged violation of the right to simple and prompt remedy. The State reiterates what it has affirmed in its observations on the pertinent investigations, which it characterizes as having been carried out "in proper form," and that the independence, impartiality, and depth of the investigations cannot be analyzed apart from their outcome. It cites procedural provisions to lay a foundation for its argument that the petitioners had the opportunity to participate actively in the so-called parallel proceedings, which permitted petitioners to oversee them and to have a simple and prompt remedy to secure a review of the judgments handed down in those proceedings. The State says that "... as there were adequate and effective domestic remedies, it would appear that petitioner decided not to exhaust them."
313. The State also addresses the alleged violation of the right to appeal a conviction to a higher court (Article 8(2)(h) of the American Convention). The State reiterates what it argued in the processing of this case before the Commission, that the special appeal is "a suitable context for discussing the legality and reasonability of a judgment, in particular when its resolution turns on federal questions." It continues arguing that the conclusion of the Commission in this respect "... is posed in abstract and speculative terms as a matter of principle." The State cites passages of the report by the then Attorney General of the Nation, who advised the dismissal of the direct appeal ("recurso de queja por denegación de recurso extraordinario") in the Abella case, and then concludes:
314. Also with respect to Article 8(2)(h), the State notes that in the parallel proceedings the violation of that provision cannot be invoked, because it is of the view that petitioners had not exhausted domestic remedies. It refers to the Giroldi case cited by the Commission in this report (paragraphs 271 and 272 supra) to support its assertion that the petitioners "limited themselves to seeking the inadequate forum and then to build their complaint [before the Commission] on that basis." In addition, the State indicates that in the case against Enrique Gorriarán Merlo in connection with the January 1989 attack on the La Tablada barracks, the Supreme Court of Justice declared inapplicable the provision of Law 23.077 regarding the only appeal available against the final judgment, and consequently the cassation appeal ("recurso de casación") brought by the defendant was granted. Finally, it makes reference to proposed legislation currently before the Commission on Criminal Legislation of the Chamber of Deputies, which incorporates the cassation appeal into the procedure provided for in Law 23.077.
315. In the final chapter of its observations, the State
requests the Commission to reconsider its conclusions. For this purpose,
it offers a proposed text by which, if adopted, the Commission would conclude
in this report that the State violated no Convention based rights.
VI. REQUEST FOR RECONSIDERATION
316. First, the State's request for "reconsideration of the conclusions" should be analyzed based on "factual considerations not adduced earlier." As the State properly indicates, the request for reconsideration provided for in Article 54 of the Commission's Regulations is for those States that are not parties to the American Convention. The Argentine State must also be aware that the reason for that procedural stage derives from the characteristics of the processing of petitions alleging violations of the human rights set forth in the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man. The processing of such petitions does not include a procedure similar to that stipulated in Articles 50 and 51 of the American Convention, which afford the State more than one opportunity to present observations on the Commission's conclusions and recommendations and, in particular, the opportunity to submit the Commission's opinion in the Article 50 report to the decision of the Inter-American Court.
317. The Argentine State bases its position on a supposed practice of the Commission, which would allow for a similar procedure, to which end it cites the judgment on preliminary objections in the Velásquez Rodríguez case. With respect to Velásquez Rodríguez, the Commission notes that the Inter-American Court stated that a request for reconsideration from a State party to the American Convention can be admitted if the following conditions are met:
- that the request is "within certain timely and reasonable limits";
- that the interest in seeing a case resolved before the Commission is well-founded;
- that it be in line with the general purpose of the procedure before the Commission to obtain a satisfactory solution to the alleged violation, through the cooperation of the State in question.
318. This case began with the transmittal of the original complaint to the Argentine State on October 18, 1993. As noted in chapter II of this report, which summarizes the processing of this case by the Commission, three years and seven months have elapsed from that date to the date of transmittal to the State of Confidential report 22/97. During that period, the Commission sent several communications from the petitioners to the State that reiterated their complaint and raised points never answered by the State. For its part, the State has submitted three reports to the Commission, of which only the one sent on January 9, 1995 contains partial responses to the allegations.
319. The Commission would also like to emphasize that the communication from the petitioners on March 9, 1995, makes observations on all the points of the State's January 1995 report, reiterating their complaint in all material respects, and specifically highlighting all the points not answered by the State. Although that communication was sent to the State, the last note the State presented to the Commission, in August 1995, declined to respond to these allegations. In effect, that note only analyzes a news interview with Enrique Gorriarán Merlo, leader of the MTP.
320. In light of the foregoing, and assuming that the practice of the Commission effectively does include requests for reconsideration of its reports issued pursuant to Article 50 of the American Convention, the Commission wishes to note that such a reconsideration would be neither reasonable, nor timely in this case. The State's observations do not contain new facts or information recently obtained regarding the January 1989 events at La Tablada. To the contrary, it is an elaboration of its only response to petitioners' claims, based on the files and official documents issued in Argentina on this case, which have been fully available to the State at all times. Despite the many times the petitioners repeated their specific allegations, and that the Commission requested information from the Argentine State concerning these allegations, the State did not provide additional information to refute them. In this respect, Article 48(1)(a) of the American Convention provides that the information requested of the State "... shall be submitted within a reasonable period to be determined by the Commission in accordance with the circumstances of each case." (emphasis added).
321. In the same context, one should note the first part of paragraph 69 in the decision on preliminary objections in Velásquez Rodríguez, which the State omits from its cite:
322. Furthermore, the State's observations display no disposition on its part to resolve the case brought before the Commission, nor do they appear aimed at "obtaining a satisfactory solution to the violation alleged." The State says that it raises questions of law that "are aimed merely at removing the obstacles from the path of the objective truth."
323. Actually, were it to accede to the reconsideration request, the Commission would be obliged to reweigh all of the evidence it considered in Report 22/97, and which resulted in conclusions and recommendations that were not favorable to the State. This additional stage, which is not provided for in the text of the Convention or in the Commission's Regulations, would tend to undermine the right of the petitioners to offer an opinion as to evidence brought forth by the State and to offer its own evidence in opposition. This would constitute an open violation of the principles of equality of the parties, due process, and the right of defense. The Commission cannot tolerate such unfair results, since they would affect principles of procedure vital to its function of effectively protecting human rights.
324. In any event, the Commission deems it well-advised to reiterate its usual practice when analyzing the observations of States on the conclusions and recommendations contained in reports issued pursuant to Article 50 of the Convention. To this end, it is instructive to refer to the report in case 11.303, on Carlos Ranferí Gómez López, against Guatemala. The petitioner in that case alleged that he was the victim of an assassination attempt, carried out by members of the Guatemalan military, in February 1993, and that he was deprived of his right to judicial protection. The Commission adopted an Article 50 report concluding that the Guatemalan State had violated the human rights of Mr. Gómez López. In its observations to the report, the Guatemalan State argued that the complainant was held because he had committed common crimes, which explained why it could neither accept responsibility, nor pay compensation to the victim. As a foundation for this position, the State forwarded a report by the Ombudsman for Human Rights (Procuraduría de Derechos Humanos) of Guatemala. The position adopted in this respect by the Commission, which is relevant to the instant case, is as follows:
325. In light of the above considerations, the Commission decides not to grant the request for reconsideration of the conclusions and recommendations contained in its report 22/97. Having clearly established that there are no justifiable grounds for reconsideration of the case at this stage, the Commission wishes to point out that the search for the "objective truth", a term used by the State of Argentina, is a constant concern in all its actions. This process of adjusting actions to rules is one of the objectives of the Commission, in its capacity as an international supervisory body. Specifically, in order to ensure that the search for truth strikes the right balance between the conclusions contained in report 22/97 and possible new probative elements presented by the State, the Commission shall proceed to analyze the arguments of the Argentine State concerning the aforementioned Article 50 report. In its analysis, the Commission will take into account the possibility that the report may contain some material error or that the State may have presented new, concrete and substantive elements for determining that the facts occurred in a manner different from what has already been established by the Commission.
VII. FINAL ANALYSIS
326. The Commission has analyzed the petitioners' allegations regarding violations of several of the rights protected by the American Convention, in light of the facts that appear in the record, the partial answer from the State, and other relevant information. The Commission shall set forth its conclusions in this case in light of this analysis and of the observations of the Argentine State summarized supra V.
A. THE ATTACK AND RECAPTURE OF THE MILITARY BASE
327. As for the facts linked directly to the attack on the La Tablada barracks and its recapture, the Commission concludes that those events constituted a non-international armed conflict, for the reasons set forth in Chapter IV.A of this report. As such, the conduct during the hostilities is governed by the rules on internal armed conflicts, which the Commission is competent to apply, as explained in Chapter IV of this report.
328. Based on its application of said norms of humanitarian law, the Commission found that there was not sufficient evidence to determine that the State used illegal methods and means of combat to retake the barracks at La Tablada in January 1989. It also determined that the civilians who took up arms and attacked those barracks became legitimate military targets for such time as they actively participated in the conflict. Therefore, the deaths of and wounds inflicted on the attackers, while they were active participants in the conflict, were legitimately related to the combat, and do not constitute violations of the American Convention or of the applicable provisions of humanitarian law.
B. EVENTS FOLLOWING SURRENDER
329. From the moment their hostile acts ceased and they were in the custody of State agents, the attackers who survived were fully protected by Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, and by the relevant articles of the American Convention, from any act of violence by State agents.
330. The petitioners complained that ten of those attackers were captured by the military forces that regained control of the barracks and were subsequently executed. In order to determine whether these complaints were founded, the Commission examined in its report 22/97 the elements of proof presented by the petitioners, reviewed the events that were the object of the complaint and considered the partial information provided by the State. From this careful analysis the Commission concluded that nine of the attackers who had survived the attack had been captured by the military forces that retook the barracks after the cessation of hostilities. The Commission also concluded that the information in the record of the case was not sufficient to establish in the case of one of the dead attackers that he had been captured alive and later executed by State agents.
331. Having established that the military forces had control over the nine survivors, the Commission then examined the Statements contained in the record to determine whether it was possible to prove that the nine survivors had been executed extrajudicially. In doing so, the Commission applied the procedural burden of proof derived from the Neira Alegría case under which every State has an obligation to investigate acts which have occurred in its territory, where a complaint is brought for violations of the human rights of persons subject to the direct and exclusive control of agents of the said State.
332. Applying that jurisprudence to the present case, the Commission concluded in report 22/97 that nine of the survivors who were captured by the military forces which regained control of the RIM 3 barracks in La Tablada had been executed extrajudicially, in violation of article 4 of the American Convention. In view of the comments of the Argentine State on the report, the Commission will now State its definitive conclusions in the instant case.
i. First Group
333. The State affirms in its observations that the account in Chapter IV.B.i of this report "does not reflect the actual situation" ("no condice con la realidad de los hechos"). It should be noted that the observations contain the first reference of the Argentine State before the Commission with respect to the circumstances of the deaths of Carlos Alberto Burgos and Roberto Sánchez. At this stage, the State cites the testimony of several members of the military who allegedly recognized both attackers, during the events that occurred in the barracks--in the place known as the Guardia de Prevención--on January 23, 1989, between 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
334. Upon review, the Commission has found that there was a material error at paragraph 201 of the Article 50 report, which has been duly corrected in this document. In effect, paragraph 137(d) of this report (which has not been modified) refers to Carlos Alberto Burgos, noting that "... he had been seen alive by his family members after noon on January 23, 1989."
335. Paragraph 201 of this report sets forth the allegation presented by the petitioners. Nonetheless, at no time did the Commission conclude that Carlos Alberto Burgos was alive after noon on January 24, 1989. The Commission established that both Burgos and Sánchez were taken alive and were in the custody of agents of the Argentine State after surrendering. In reaching this conclusion the Commission considered the complaint, the testimony of the soldiers cited by the petitioners (who were not contradicted by the State at the appropriate procedural phase of the proceedings before the Inter-American Commission), and the lack of an investigation, all in light of the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court with respect to the burden of proof in such circumstances. Consequently, the material error found and corrected does not affect the conclusions with respect to the persons mentioned.
336. The State expressly admits in its observations that "there was no special investigation" of the detention and extrajudicial execution of Carlos Alberto Burgos and Roberto Sánchez, with the qualification that those events were not alleged before the Argentine courts, and that "nor is there a single element to permit even a suspicion that justifies an investigation on its own initiative." The Commission expresses its total disagreement with this last Statement, bearing in mind precisely the circumstances analyzed in the respective chapters of this report.
337. In addition, it should be noted that the State did not raise the objection of failure to exhaust domestic remedies during the processing of the case before the Commission. To the contrary, in its first response of February 18, 1994, it sought a declaration of inadmissibility on the absence of a violation, on the basis that there were no "arbitrary or discriminatory forms of conduct imputable to the Argentine courts, and that due process was clearly respected." In a communication of January 9, 1995, the State asked that the case be declared inadmissible "under Article 47 of the American Convention on Human Rights and Article 41 of the Regulations"; the communication of August 10, 1995, reiterated that request. The analysis on compliance with the requirement of Article 46(1)(a) of the American Convention is not possible in this procedural stage. In this respect, the Inter-American Court has established that:
338. With respect to Iván Ruiz and José Alejandro Díaz, the observations of the Argentine State confirm that both were taken alive and were in the custody of State agents. It includes, in this regard, Statements by several members of the military in the Abella case, constructing its own version of the facts. According to this version, non-commissioned officer Esquivel died as the result of a gunshot wound by a firearm fired at close range. For this reason, as well as the visibility conditions at the time they allegedly occurred, and because Esquivel was wearing a military uniform, the State "has a well-founded suspicion" that he was killed by an attacker. The State considers that, from that moment, Ruiz and Díaz ceased to be in the custody of State agents, and that they may have escaped. To support this, they attach a map of the RIM 3 barracks at La Tablada, highlighting that its perimeter is 4.300 meters in length, and therefore "a complete cordon could not be perfectly put in place" around it.
339. First, it should be clarified that this is the first time that the State refers to the cases of Ruiz and Díaz before this Commission, and that the respective observations have been extracted from official documents that were available to it throughout the processing of this case before the Commission. A careful analysis of these observations reveals that no new facts, information, or errors are invoked that tend to establish clearly that the events occurred other than as concluded by the Commission in its Article 50 report. For example, what the State says about the persons who participated in the attack and later allegedly escaped from the RIM 3 barracks (Falco and Gorriarán) is not supported by any information concerning the moment when or circumstances by which this occurred. Therefore, the State has not adduced information that is sufficiently compelling to establish that Ruiz and Díaz could have escaped as well.
340. The Commission does not understand how the State, based on the death of Esquivel, is able to construct the following events: that Esquivel was killed by the attackers; that Ruiz and Díaz were not badly injured; that the latter contacted the other attackers, and somehow got a hold of weapons; and above all, that Ruiz and Díaz escaped the control of State agents. Effectively, the "well-founded suspicions" of the State are just based on a different interpretation of the testimony, not on irrefutable data. In view of all the foregoing, the Commission fully confirms the conclusions of its report 22/97 with respect to the deaths of Iván Ruiz and José Alejandro Díaz.
ii. Second group
341. The State makes reference to its observations in the case of Berta Calvo, using the testimonies of several members of the military to affirm that she "never could have been alive in the custody of the authorities." They relate a different version of the circumstances, according to which a member of the military shot her within the La Tablada barracks, noting that she, the attacker, was in combat, and her companions had taken a soldier hostage. They also note that Berta Calvo "had about four gunshot wounds" that apparently affected her vital organs, which they consider confirmed by the autopsy report and by the lapse of 24 hours that occurred between the firing of the shots and the surrender. Finally, the State argues that there is a contradiction between the attackers' testimony, as they speak of the seriousness of her wounds and, at the same time, say that she was shot when surrendering with her hands up.
342. The Commission again points out that the observations with respect to Berta Calvo provided by the State consist of testimony taken from documents that the State had available to it during the processing of this case, yet during the appropriate procedural stage it declined to answer the respective allegations. In effect, in addition to the original complaint, the Commission forwarded to the State a communication from the petitioners on June 13, 1994, at page 12 of which they listed all the issues not answered by the State, including the following:
343. The communication that the State forwarded to the Commission on January 9, 1995, includes in its heading the expression "... in response to your note of June 13, 1994, in relation to Case No. 11.137." Nonetheless, the only reference to Berta Calvo in that response from the State is as follows:
344. The failure of the State to respond to this accusation is incomprehensible to the Commission. Nor was it explained or justified in any way in the observations to the Article 50 report adopted in this case. The Commission took note of that silence as one of the elements for arriving at its conclusions in this case.
345. The observations provided by the State on the circumstances of Berta Calvo's death do not contain new facts, nor other elements that would tend to refute that the facts occurred other than as established in the respective part of Chapter IV.B.ii of this report.
346. In its observations the State cites the result of an autopsy performed on the body of Berta Calvo, a copy of which was not attached. Based on the report of that autopsy, the State affirms that her death "... was caused by internal hemorrhaging as a result of bullet wounds to the thorax and abdomen." The Commission does not consider that information conclusive to establish the time, manner, and place of the death of Berta Calvo.
347. In addition, it should be noted that the State, in support of its views, refers to the testimony of Eduardo Navascues, who is alleged to have stated as follows in proceeding 1.794:
348. In this respect, it should be noted that the testimony of Navascues is cited in the judgment in the Abella case in the following terms:
349. In the second testimony, which relates the same moment recreated in the first testimony now cited by the State to validate its arguments, Navascues has omitted such an important detail: that Berta Calvo had been wounded. This obvious change between the two testimonies of Navascues decreases his credibility as a witness.
350. For all the reasons developed in the foregoing paragraphs, including the analytical part of this report, the Commission reaffirms its conclusions with respect to Berta Calvo.
351. As in the other cases, the Argentine State sets forth its position concerning the death of Francisco Provenzano for the first time in its observations. The State affirms that only Carlos Ernesto Motto declared he had seen Provenzano alive at the time of the surrender. The State also refers to an autopsy that it allegedly established that Provenzano died by carbonization and not as a result of wounds, but that autopsy report was never submitted to the Commission. The State continues evaluating the testimonies of 12 attackers in proceeding 1.754 (one of the so-called "parallel proceedings", which was never presented to the Commission) noting:
352. The State considers it striking that in the Statements taken five days after they were detained the attackers would not have mentioned details that they did recall three months after the events. The State also refers to Statements by Enrique Gorriarán Merlo in which he says that the persons detained at the barracks observed the extrajudicial execution of Provenzano. The declarations of Gorriarán Merlo are on an audio tape called "The Truth about La Tablada" (a copy of which is attached to the observations, as an appendix), in which the head of the MTP relates the events of January 23 and 24, 1989. The Commission notes that the State failed to supply any explanation as to why it considered the passage of time, its effect on the memory, or the testimonies of the attackers, "striking".
353. The State's observations highlight the fact that the complainants "did not propose any type of investigative measures, as they were limited merely to requesting photocopies of the file once it was archived." The Commission reiterates in this regard what is already established in Chapter IV.B.iv of this report with respect to the State's obligation to investigate under the American Convention.
354. As it has noted in the above cases, the Commission reiterates that the State's observations do not contain new elements that would allow it to modify the conclusions of this report with respect to the death of Francisco Provenzano.
355. In the case of Carlos Samojedny, the State mentions the writ of habeas corpus filed on his behalf on February 8, 1989. This case was dismissed by the judge of first instance because Samojedny was not detained in the facilities of the Federal Police, nor of the Police of the Province of Buenos Aires, nor by the armed forces. The dismissal was appealed by the complainants, and later confirmed by the San Martín Federal Court on February 17, 1989. The State insists, in this regard, that the allegations were made almost three months after the events, once the attackers were no longer being held incommunicado. The State also notes that Samojedny's wife, Cintia Alejandra Castro, made her allegation six months afterwards, in an oral trial before the San Martín Federal Court; and that she filed a new writ of habeas corpus on behalf of Samojedny on June 23, 1995, in respect of which the Court certified the existence of the prior habeas corpus and confirmed the decision in that first case. In this respect, the Commission reiterates its Statement above that the Argentine State has a duty to investigate.
356. The State indicates that "... none of the detainees said they had seen Samojedny detained, it was only said that they had heard his voice." Nonetheless, in processing this case before the Commission, the petitioners stated the following:
Carlos Samojedny: According to the testimony, when he identified himself, they began to beat him.... They continued beating him very hard, to the point that he said "I am going to lose consciousness." Today Samojedny is among the disappeared. (underlining in the original)
357. In the face of the State's silence in response to that allegation, the petitioners ratified the following:
358. In its response to this last communication, the State limited itself to saying that the San Martín Federal Court had ordered the arrest of Carlos Samojedny, considered a fugitive in the Abella case; and that proceeding 1.794, which was to investigate the death of Samojedny and other attackers, was ordered provisionally dismissed on April 30, 1992; this order was not appealed.
359. The Commission also makes reference to the testimony of attacker Isabel Fernández (cited by Amnesty International), who was at Samojedny's side when he identified himself.
360. Therefore, the doubt the State raises, to the effect that perhaps Samojedny was not seen, but only heard by his companions, is clearly contradicted by the preceding Statements, which were offered into evidence in the processing of the case before the Commission, and which were not disputed by the State at the appropriate procedural stage. The State's observations are merely a new assessment of information which was available to it at all times. Nor does the State make any reference to an error on the part of the Commission with respect to Samojedny, or anything that would allow one to conclude that the events occurred other than as established in the respective chapter of this report.
361. The case of Pablo Martín Ramos is also analyzed in the State's observations. The State cites the testimony of attacker Sebastián Joaquín Ramos, brother of Pablo Martín, who is alleged to have declared that when he left the Non-Commissioned Officers' Club he saw his brother in "unfamiliar clothes that drew his attention," which would have been the same clothes he was wearing in the photo that appeared in the Diario Popular on January 25, 1989. This testimony, according to the State, confirms that the person who appears in the photo surrendering with his hands behind his head is not Pablo Martín Ramos, but a member of the military by the name of Walter Teófilo Sciares. Sciares, according to this version, declared that he was the person in the photo, taken when the attackers forced him to come out surrounded by them, with his hands up. Sciares's Statement, according to the State, coincides with the Statement of another member of the military, José Antonio Sierra, who was behind Sciares in the photo. The State also makes reference to the testimony of three other members of the military who were held as hostages by the attackers in the barracks. The State also mentions an expert report by the Argentine Federal Police, which is said to have concluded that Sciares is the person who appears in the photograph in question.
362. The Commission notes that the Statements said to have been made by the five members of the military were not attached to the observations, nor submitted at any time to the Commission. The State does not cite these Statements textually, but makes reference to the numbers of the folios (yet without clarifying what court file is referred to) and it draws therefrom its own conclusions. Nor does the State attach a copy of the expert report by the Argentine Federal Police. At this stage of the proceeding, the Commission does not have a way to evaluate the context in which the testimonies were offered, nor how reliable the State considers them to be; the same holds true for the expert report on the photos. Under the confidential nature assigned by the Inter-American Court to Article 50 reports, the Commission is precluded from transmitting the observations to the petitioners, which leaves them without an opportunity to controvert those Statements.
363. Independent of those circumstances, the Commission observes that the scene in the photo does not reflect what the members of the military were said to have stated; instead, it tends to show the opposite. In effect, one can only see the person with hands behind the head followed closely by another person, whose face is covered by the left arm of the first person. The left arm of the second person is not raised, and the other arm cannot be seen, as it is covered by the body of the person walking ahead. To the rear one observes a building, no persons are in the photo other than those just described, neither in front or behind, nor to the side of either of the two persons mentioned. If the State seeks to show that the scene depicts the surrender of the attackers in the midst of the hostages, it does not explain why only two persons appear--supposedly both members of the military--with no one else within several meters. Nor does it explain why the person in front has his arms raised, if he is supposedly a member of the military who is followed closely by another member of the military (who does not have his hands up) at the moment of the surrender.
364. The Commission concludes that the State's explanation, adduced beyond the procedural time limits and without providing the elements of evidence invoked, lacks the strength necessary to establish that the person in the photo analyzed could be Sciares, followed by another member of the military. To the contrary, a comparison of this new explanation with that set forth in the petitioners' complaint tends to bolster the credibility of the latters' position.
365. The petitioners stated that Sebastián Joaquín Ramos, the brother of the attacker referred to above, was prevented from making such allegations in the Abella case, as it was not the subject matter of the trial. The petitioners indicated that the appearance of the corpse of Pablo Martín Ramos "... with eight gunshot wounds in his body and one in the head shook public opinion." As was mentioned previously in this report, the initial response of the Argentine State to the petitioners' complaint only refers to the legal characterization of the facts and to the judicial proceedings in Argentina. In the face of this silence, the petitioners stated:
366. The following communication from the State to the Commission "in response to your note of June 13, 1994, in relation to Case No. 11.137," mentions Pablo Martín Ramos as one of the corpses identified on January 25, 1989, "all of which are indicated as deceased in the petition in question." The only other reference to Pablo Martín Ramos in that communication indicates that his mother came forward as an accuser in proceeding No. 1.794 (one of the so-called "parallel proceedings"). The last note remitted to the Commission by the Argentine State is dated August 10, 1995, and merely alludes to an interview of Enrique Gorriarán Merlo by a journalist.
367. The petitioners alleged from the beginning that Pablo Martín Ramos was taken alive and then executed by the members of the military who retook the RIM 3 barracks at La Tablada. They reiterated this assertion in their later communications to the Commission, in response to the absolute silence of the State. One of the elements used by the Commission in analyzing this particular case was the photograph of the person who was surrendering with his hands up--whose identity is now disputed by the State for the first time before the Commission--which is similar to another photograph of the deceased attacker.
368. As in all the other cases that make up this second group, the Commission used all the information available for the purpose of determining what actually happened and as a basis for its decision. In its analysis, the Commission considered the fact that the allegation as to the execution of Ramos met with no objection or refutation by the State in the appropriate procedural stage. It also took into account the context in which the retaking of the RIM 3 barracks at La Tablada occurred, and the lack of an investigation into the serious allegations made by the defendants in the Abella case.
369. As for the lack of an investigation into the death of Pablo Martín Ramos, the Commission took into account documents from Amnesty International cited in several parts of this report. As part of its extensive investigation into the events at La Tablada, Amnesty International set forth the conclusions of an independent expert in forensic medicine, who analyzed the autopsies of the members of the military and the attackers who were killed in the incident. That expert stated:
370. Another expert in forensic medicine consulted as part of the same investigation established that the reports provided by the forensic pathologists and the radiologists were "highly inconsistent." To illustrate this assertion, the expert noted:
371. Based on the foregoing paragraphs, the Commission reiterates the conclusions regarding the circumstances of the death of Pablo Martín Ramos set forth in the Article 50 report adopted and forwarded to the Argentine State in this case. The Commission also concludes that the photograph of the person with hands behind the head within the barracks takes on even greater evidentiary value, in light of the observations by the Argentine State, to establish that there were attackers who surrendered alive in the RIM 3 barracks at La Tablada, and who were later the victims of extrajudicial executions by State agents.
372. The last of the attackers included in the second group analyzed by the Commission is Ricardo Veiga. With respect to him, the State's observations begin by stating that "this fact was not alleged in court." On this point, the Commission reiterates the well-known rule by which such objections are not to be allowed at this stage in the procedure, and refers to what was said in this regard about the allegations concerning Carlos Alberto Burgos and Roberto Sánchez.
373. The State affirms that "... from a simple reading of the case" (the Commission believes it means the Abella case, although the State does not specify this), one can note that the soldiers and deserters who were in the guard's quarters (Guardia de Prevención) in the RIM 3 barracks at La Tablada at the time it collapsed did not allude to the execution alleged. It cites the testimony of four members of the military who allegedly concurred in stating that "... only two of the attackers (Ruiz and Díaz) were able to get out with them." The observations also indicate that another member of the military by the name of Alejandro Gentile had declared that a person with "a somewhat strange scraggly beard" had also got out alive, that he had given him a message and an address in case he died; the physical description and address apparently led to the conclusion that the attacker identified by Gentile was Ricardo Veiga. Finally, the State cites the version of René Rojas, another member of the military, to the effect that the last one to leave the place was "...a subversive, with a small goatee." According to what Rojas was said to have testified, this person turned and was hit by a shot that apparently killed him."
374. In the first place, it should be clarified that the Commission has not been able to undertake a "simple reading of the case," as the testimony cited in this stage of the procedure by the State is found in documents never submitted to the Commission. The State has not used any of the opportunities it had during the processing of this case to refute the petitioners' allegations; nor has it presented any justification for this silence. Even so, the Commission notes that the allusions to the supposed testimony of the four members of the military does not indicate that Ricardo Veiga was not executed. Furthermore, the Commission has no information to indicate that the "subversive with a small goatee" was Ricardo Veiga, as the State provided no evidence to support this version of the facts.
375. The State goes on to assert that the videotape cited in several parts of this report cannot be used as evidence of the capture of Díaz and Ruiz, and at the same time Ricardo Veiga getting away alive. It considers this contradictory. First of all, the State has not explained why the use of this evidence by the Commission to prove certain facts would exclude the possibility of dismissing the same evidence to prove another completely different set of facts. The State has referred to the tape in its observations to support its version of certain events, but dismissed it with respect to other events. The Commission wishes to point out that the videotape is one of the elements, not the only one, used in the joint analysis of the cases of Samojedny, Provenzano, Calvo, Ramos, and Veiga. The Commission never asserted what the State expresses when it says "the video is considered clear proof that only Ruiz and Díaz left the guards' quarters (Guardia de Prevención)." It would not make sense to debate the supposed value of that element to prove this specific fact, as the Commission has not assigned it such a value in its report.
376. The petitioners alleged that Ricardo Veiga left the guards' quarters (Guardia de Prevención) when the roof collapsed, and was later executed by State agents "before television cameras." As was repeated several times above, the initial response of the State did not refer at all to these facts; the petitioners' observations to that note indicate that the State
377. The only response from the State, which contains partial references to the facts analyzed here, is limited to mentioning Ricardo Veiga among the attackers whose corpses were identified on January 25, 1989. It contains no reference whatsoever to the circumstances surrounding his death; nor does that communication mention the testimony cited in the observations. The Commission calls special attention to the fact that these observations were submitted by the State two-and-a-half years after the answer, and almost four years after having received the original complaint in this case.
378. Mindful of the foregoing analyses, and what has been previously stated regarding the burden of proof, the State's silence, and its failure to investigate the allegations, the Commission reaffirms the conclusions of this report concerning the violation of Ricardo Veiga's right to life.
iii. Final conclusions on the two groups
379. The Commission considers that the observations of the State on report 22/97 cannot modify the conclusions arrived at from a review of the elements of proof presented by the petitioners and from a study of the acts which gave rise to the complaint. As a result of that review, the Commission asserts that nine of the attackers who survived the attack had been captured by the military forces which regained control of the barracks after the cessation of hostilities. The State's observations, moreover, do not invalidate the conclusions, which were based on the same review and study, as well as on the shift of the burden of proof. It is the conclusion of the Commission that these same nine attackers were executed extrajudicially, in violation of Article 4 of the American Convention.
380. The Commission therefore reaffirms the conclusions contained in chapter IV.B, subtitles (i) and (ii) of this report.
iv. Treatment of survivors and accomplices
381. With respect to the events after the surrender, the Commission found that all the survivors of the attack were tortured by State agents, as were the seven persons convicted as accomplices in the Abella case.
382. As regards the survivors of the attack, the State's observations to the Article 50 report State as follows:
383. The case the State refers to is known as Sosa, Juan Aníbal S/Inf. art. 144 (5) of the Penal Code, numbered 921, a copy of which was submitted by the State as one of the appendixes to its observations to the Article 50 report. Its purpose was for the State to investigate the events denounced by the surviving attackers.
384. As regards Juan Manuel Burgos, Juan Carlos Abella, Dora Molina, Miguel Angel Faldutti, and Daniel Gabioud Almirón, the State refers to medical reports that would prove that no wounds were inflicted on these persons after their capture. Nonetheless, such evidence was not provided. As in the previous cases, the Argentine State also refers to testimony copies of which were not submitted to the Commission. The Commission, therefore, reasserts its conclusions as to the facts alleged regarding the persons listed at the beginning of this paragraph.
385. Both from the observations of the State and the Sosa case, the Commission reached a clear conclusion: Joaquín Sebastián Ramos, Claudio Rodríguez, Claudio Veiga, Luis Díaz, and Carlos Motto were subjected to beatings, mistreatment, and torture by agents of the Argentine State after having been captured. In effect, a review of the record in question reveals that a report by two forensic doctors speaks of the new wounds these attackers had three days after their detention (folio 29). The judge in the case, Miguel Guillermo Pons, in provisionally dismissing the case for failure to identify the material perpetrators, acknowledges the existence of "mistreatment, cruelty, and/or lesions" (folio 231) against the complainants; and at folio 249, the Federal Criminal and Correctional Court considers that the defendants detained were subjected to torture "while handcuffed and with their heads covered."
386. The Commission does not consider it necessary to determine whether the procedural or substantial reason for which the investigation was closed in itself suffices to meet the standards of the international human rights obligations binding on the Argentine State. It should first be determined whether the State violated its international human rights obligations; and second, if in the face of such evidence, independent of the domestic law provisions invoked, it carried out its duty to investigate the events that constituted a violation of the Convention.
387. The Commission finds that the Argentine State violated Article 5 of the Convention and breached its duty to investigate the events that constituted that violation for, in contrast to what the Government says, the closure of the investigation cannot be cited readily to conclude that the decisions were in line with the facts in the case, but precisely the opposite: the decisions of the Argentine courts were not in line with the facts in the case that were considered to have been proven domestically.
388. As for the other accomplices, Juan Antonio Puigjané and Cintia Alejandra Castro, the State refers to medical exams that would tend to refute the existence of lesions after they were brought into custody. The Commission cannot at this stage accept such references, as copies of the testimonies were neither submitted at the appropriate procedural opportunity, nor with the State's observations on the Article 50 report.
389. The Commission now finds it necessary to make a series of additional observations regarding the State's response. It notes firstly that if the violations which gave rise to the complaint were proven in a domestic jurisdictional instance when the judge in the Sosa case determined that the petitioners had suffered "harassment, injuries and/or ill treatment" while in the custody of agents of the State, the liability of the State for these violations of Article 5 of the American Convention is indisputable, since it was the State's international obligation to ensure that its agents effectively protected these persons and prevented any violation of their rights
390. Secondly, the Commission concludes that the authors of the said violations were agents of the State. The petitioners have complained that the authors of the violations were State employees and have presented evidence in support of that contention. The State, for its part, only replied when it presented its comments on report 22/97. The Commission wishes to emphasize that, in response to these complaints, the State was obliged to prove that the petitioners' right to personal integrity had been violated by persons other than its agents. This burden of proof is based on the jurisprudence in the Neira Alegría case, since the relationship of control and custody between the affected persons and the agents of the State which existed in the latter case is the same as the one that existed in the present case, in which the petitioners were deprived of their liberty, confined in an enclosed space under the exclusive control of the agents of the State.
391. Despite its obligation to provide proof, the State never did so during the proceedings to refute the claims of the petitioners that State agents had violated their right to personal integrity. What is more, the State's observations on report 22/97 are insufficient to satisfy the burden of proof which the State is required to discharge in this case.
392. Thirdly, the Commission notes, as it has done before in other cases, that the State has an international obligation to investigate, clarify and redress any violation of human rights which gives rise to a complaint and to punish those responsible, in accordance with article 1.1, 8 and 25 of the American Convention. In this case, in particular, the State had the obligation to identify those responsible for the violations of the right to personal integrity which gave rise to the petitioners' complaint. However, as may be seen from the comments of the State and from the evidence in the Sosa case, the violations in respect of which the complaint had been brought were investigated and found to have taken place, but those responsible were never identified.
393. The Commission recalls that this obligation is a means and not an end and that the State on occasion may find it impossible to identify the authors of a violation. However, the Commission considers that in cases such as the present, in which individuals are deprived of their freedom, confined in an enclosed space and controlled exclusively by agents of the State, any defense alleging the difficulty or impossibility of establishing the identity of those responsible should be strictly and rigorously scrutinized. Even though this obligation is a means, in such cases it is the State which has control over all the probative means to clarify the facts.
394. The State made no reference to its obligation to identify the persons responsible for the violations of personal integrity until it presented its observations on report 22/97. The Commission considers that these observations do not meet the standard of strict and rigorous scrutiny and that they are not sufficient to support the lack of means alleged. The necessary proof was at the disposal of the State or should have been if the State had proceeded with the necessary diligence. The State cannot limit itself, as it has done in its observations in this case, to recording the testimony of those who guarded the detained persons as the sole or principal means of ascertaining the truth.
395. Where this is done, the Commission may question the effectiveness of the means used by the State to investigate a violation. If no other probative means are envisaged, the law should be reformed; if the conditions of detention were such that detained persons were in a situation of defenselessness, which could not be verified, then those conditions should be modified. A State cannot justify limits on its obligation to provide proof or its failure to investigate when these shortcomings are the result of or are attributable to the legal, regulatory and investigative system developed by the State itself. This should be the governing principle when the State investigates violations of human rights, since its obligation under the American Convention is to clarify the facts and to identify those responsible.
396. The State has also stated that it has been impossible to identify those responsible for the violations of the personal integrity of the petitioners, because it had to respect the judicial guarantees of the accused. This argument could lead to a scenario in which only a confession by those accused of violations could have enabled the State to identify the authors of such violations; the Commission disagrees firmly with such a scenario.
397. The Commission must emphasize that there is no conflict between the State's obligation to investigate and punish those responsible for violations of human rights and the right of the accused to judicial guarantees. In reality, they interact harmoniously and thereby legitimize the judicial system of a State that respects human rights. Individuals who have suffered violations of their rights and who appeal to the jurisdictional organs to restore the balance which has been disturbed by the act of injustice that took place expect this balance to be restored by means of rules which all citizens respect.
398. In light of the above, the Commission stands by the analysis contained in Chapter IV B (iii) of this report and reaffirms its conclusions.
C. THE TRIAL
i. Simple and effective remedy (article 25(1)) and the duty to investigate
399. In its observations, the State challenges the conclusions of the Commission concerning the State's failure to fulfil its obligation to investigate provided for in Article 1(1) and the violation of the right to an effective remedy enshrined in Article 25(1) of the Convention.
400. The State of Argentina claims that it has fulfilled its obligation to conduct an independent, complete and impartial investigation of each one of the events in respect of which a complaint was made to the appropriate jurisdictional organs. In the State's view, the independence, impartiality and comprehensiveness of the investigation cannot be determined exclusively on the basis of whether or not a person has been convicted, ignoring the possibility that the complaints might be false, or that, despite the efforts made, the acts have not been established or, where they have been established, the parties responsible have not been identified.
401. In support of its arguments, the State reiterates that the competent judicial authorities in each case ordered the opening of individual dossiers to investigate each one of the charges alleged by the petitioners and in other cases even filed charges themselves. Despite having become private complainants, the petitioners adopted a passive attitude and following the dismissal of the cases on account of the time that had elapsed, they failed to appeal the decisions to a higher court. These facts, in the State's opinion, "should not be interpreted as a failure to fulfil its duty to independently investigate the alleged violations of human rights but as an indication of the lack of objection on the part of the complainants".
402. The State also challenges the Commission's conclusion about the deficiencies of the investigation of the events which occurred in the RIM 3 barracks in La Tablada, particularly with regard to the lack of description of the investigation carried out in the place where the events occurred, the absence of photographs of the corpses, the inadequacy of the autopsies conducted and the manner in which the corpses of the attackers were treated in the hours and days following the recapture of the barracks.
403. In this connection, the State appears to be questioning the probative value which the Commission assigned to the report published by Amnesty International, in so far as "it cannot be assumed that it was prepared as thoroughly as a report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights would be". The State goes on to indicate that even where the criminal procedural legislation in force at the time the events occurred requires an autopsy to be carried out only when the causes of death cannot be determined from an external examination, the court responsible for the preliminary investigation in any case gave instructions for an autopsy to be conducted. It also States that the Forensic Department of the Ministry of National Justice took pictures of each one of the corpses and these photographs were added to the corresponding dossier. As for the investigation in the place where the events had taken place, the State claims that, given the limited number of forensic doctors and the numerous tasks which they were required to perform, it was not the norm in the country for such doctors to carry out their duties in the place where the death occurs, a task which is the responsibility of the crime prevention authorities.
404. The State alleged that the report of Amnesty International used by the Commission as well as the other elements of proof presented by the petitioners to establish the inadequacy of the investigations conducted in the internal jurisdiction, only refers to six of the twenty-eight autopsies carried out on the attackers and identifies alleged flaws in two of them. For this reason, it is not possible to draw any general conclusions. The State then discusses in great detail the Commission's views on the deficiencies identified in the autopsies carried out on the attackers, defending the results of the autopsies from the toxicological, radiological, fingerprint and odontological perspectives. Finally, the State indicated that the petitioners' claim that the corpses of the attackers had been left in the open air in high temperatures for one week was inconsistent with what had really transpired. According to the State, the records show that in case number 1722 the judicial morgue received the corpses on 24 January 1989; the putrefaction alleged, therefore, would be due to the fact that the corpses had been exposed to the heat common to this period of the year and to the fact that it was impossible to collect them immediately because of the prolonged fighting.
405. In reviewing the observations presented by the State of Argentina, the Commission wishes to make a few comments for the purpose of clarifying certain questions raised by the State and to define the framework of its competence in order to consider elements of proof not submitted at the appropriate stage in the proceedings.
406. The Commission will refer, firstly, to the probative value which it attaches to the report of Amnesty International, which was apparently challenged by the State as one of the elements of proof to support several conclusions contained in report 22/97, particularly those relating to the inadequacy of the autopsies carried out on the corpses of the attackers, as well as the treatment which the attackers received in the days following the recapture of the RIM 3 barracks in La Tablada.
407. The Inter-American Court has recognized the authority of an international organ to freely evaluate proof, stating that "for an international tribunal, the criteria for evaluating proof are less formal than in internal legal systems". Consequently, probative elements which are different from direct proof, such as circumstantial evidence, clues, presumptions, press articles and, where relevant, reports of non-governmental organizations may be used, provided that the conclusions drawn therefrom are consistent with the facts and corroborate the testimony or events alleged by the complainants. Assigning this power of discretion to an international organ is particularly relevant, "in cases involving the violation of human rights in which the State cannot allege as its defence the complainant's inability to provide proof which, in many cases, cannot be obtained except with the State's cooperation".
408. Taking these principles into consideration and in the face of the near absolute silence of the State, the Commission based part of its considerations in the present case on the report of Amnesty International. That report, in addition to corroborating the substance of the petitioners' complaints, permitted conclusions to be drawn that were consistent with the facts, in so far as it was based on information gathered directly at the place where the events took place and immediately after their occurrence.
409. On the other hand, it must be emphasized that the results of the autopsies carried out on the corpses of the attackers were at the disposal of the Argentine State during the entire proceedings in this case and that, for reasons which the Commission is unaware, the State declined to provide those elements of information at the appropriate stage of the proceedings, despite repeated complaints by the petitioners. In view of the technical nature of the observations made by the State, the Commission has no way of ascertaining at this stage of the proceedings if its affirmations are consistent with the truth; nor does it have the possibility of transmitting the arguments of the State to the petitioners, which would give them an opportunity to challenge its conclusions.
410. The Commission understands, however, that even if it were to take into consideration the observations of the State on this point, that would not be sufficient to demonstrate that the State had fulfilled its obligation provided for in Article 1.1 of the American Convention to carry out an immediate, exhaustive and impartial investigation of the circumstances in and reasons for which several of the attackers of the RIM 3 barracks in La Tablada lost their lives.
411. In principle, with regard to the State's argument that the petitioners failed to appeal the decision to dismiss the case, the Commission points out that the case was weak in the first place because the State failed to investigate, and therefore an appeal would have been useless. The Commission must reiterate the conclusions in that regard contained in its report 22/97.
412. Moreover, the Commission agrees with the State that the fact that no one has been convicted in the case or that, despite the efforts made, it was impossible to establish the facts does not constitute a failure to fulfil the obligation to investigate. However, in order to establish in a convincing and credible manner that this result was not the product of a mechanical implementation of certain procedural formalities without the State genuinely seeking the truth, the State must show that it carried out an immediate, exhaustive and impartial investigation.
413. In previous cases, the Commission has applied the criteria established in the "principles governing the effective prevention and investigation of extralegal, arbitrary or summary executions", which were adopted by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations in resolution 1989/65 in order to determine whether or not a State has fulfilled its obligation to investigate immediately, exhaustively and impartially the summary executions of persons under its exclusive control. In accordance with these principles, the investigation of cases of this nature must be aimed at determining the cause, manner and time of death, the person responsible and the procedure or practice which might have led to the events. The investigation will distinguish between death from natural causes, death by accident, suicide and homicide.
414. The principles mentioned have been complemented by the adoption of the "Manual on the effective prevention and investigation of extralegal, arbitrary or summary executions", which States that the principal objective of an investigation is to "ascertain the truth about events leading to the suspicious death of a victim". The Manual provides that the persons conducting the investigation must take the following minimum steps:
(a) Identify the victim;
(b) Recover and preserve probative elements related to the death in order to assist in any future trial of the persons responsible;
(c) Identify any possible witnesses and obtain Statements from them concerning the death;
(d) Determine the cause, manner, place and time of death, as well as any modality or practice that might have led to the death;
(e) Distinguish between natural death, accidental death, suicide and homicide;
(f) Identify and apprehend the person or persons who might have participated in the execution;
(g) Bring the perpetrator or perpetrators suspected of having committed a crime to a competent court established by the law.
415. In order to guarantee that an exhaustive and impartial investigation of an extralegal, arbitrary or summary execution will be carried out, the manual provides that "one of the most important aspects of [the investigation] is the gathering and analysis of the evidence". Consequently, "the persons responsible for the investigation of a presumed extrajudicial execution must also have access to the place in which the corpse was discovered, as well as to the place in which the death might have occurred". According to the standards established in the Manual, the procedure for gathering evidence must fulfil certain criteria, some of which are listed below:
(i) temperature of the body (warm, cool, cold);
(ii) position of corpse and degree of discoloration;
(iii) rigidity of corpse; and
(iv) State of decomposition.
416. The Commission notes that the information contained in the file does not show, or at least it has not been adequately proven by credible and convincing evidence, that, within the framework of the judicial investigations carried out in the internal jurisdiction, an attempt was made to identify all the corpses of the attackers or to determine the cause, the manner, place, and time of their death. In this connection, the Commission must emphasize that, even though the State in its observations challenged the conclusions of report 22/97 with respect to the autopsies of two attackers, at no time did it provide complete information about the results of the autopsies carried out on the other attackers, nor did it provide copies of the autopsy reports.
417. In the case before the Commission, the petitioners complained that there was negligence in the process of identifying the corpses of the victims, pointing out that, in some cases, the corpses were handed over in boxes containing the remains of more than one person. Specifically, they claimed that the corpses of five persons, whose identities are unknown, remained in this condition. These complaints, far from being denied by the State, are corroborated by their own observations, in which the State itself recognizes that, even eight years after the events, at least two of the corpses have not yet been identified.
418. The petitioners have alleged, moreover, that the corpses were left out in the open air in high temperatures over a period of several days, as a result of which it was difficult to carry out the autopsies and that, as a direct consequence of that, it was impossible to properly establish the cause, manner and time of death of the attackers. In its observations, the State challenges these facts stating that in case No. 1722 was established that the corpses of the attackers were received in the Judicial Morgue on 24 January 1989. The putrefaction of the corpses, in its view, was the result of the exposure over 27 hours to the high temperatures that are typical of the month of January in the place where the events took place. Also, the State defends the result of the autopsies which had been questioned in report 22/97 of this Commission, pointing out that, in some cases, the total carbonization (Francisco Provenzano) and in others the putrefaction of the corpses (Pablo Martín Ramos) made it impossible to establish with any degree of certainty the causes and time of death of the victims.
419. Without entering into a detailed review of the technical aspects of the autopsies, the Commission finds it necessary to point out that the State's claims in its observations that it was impossible to establish the cause, time and manner of death of the victims, are not sufficient to justify this serious omission. The argument that the corpses "could not be used for any serious study" due to the putrefaction caused by their exposure to heat for 27 hours does not stand up to serious scrutiny. Firstly, not all the corpses were exposed to high temperatures for the aforementioned period of time, since not all the attackers died at the same time. On the contrary, as the Commission believes it has already demonstrated, several of the attackers survived until the time of their surrender and are alleged to have been killed subsequent thereto. Secondly, the Commission does not find convincing the observation of the State that exposure to the sun of some corpses for more than 24 hours led to a degree of putrefaction which made it absolutely impossible to establish the cause, manner and time of death.
420. The Commission is of the view that, while in some cases there might have been difficulties in establishing these factual elements on the basis of the autopsy results--for example, in the case of the carbonized corpses--this information could have been supplemented if the State had carried out the appropriate investigation in the place where the events took place. The petitioners have indicated on repeated occasions that the judge did not visit the scene of the crime to gather evidence, as required by the law, and that he allowed the military to do so, contrary to his jurisdictional responsibility. Similarly, the report of Amnesty International States that in the investigations carried out at the place where the events took place, there was a failure to collect essential evidence to establish the time, place and manner in which the 29 attackers who perished in the events of January 1989 in the RIM 3 barracks at La Tablada had lost their lives. This claim is corroborated by the very Statements of the judge who acknowledged that, upon inspecting the barracks, the competent judicial authorities had omitted to determine the position of the bodies, identify and attribute the weapons which were alleged to have been found beside the corpses of the assailants (the weapons had apparently been removed from the scene of the crime by the military), or to reconstruct the events.
421. The shortcomings of the investigations carried out in the place where the events took place as denounced by the petitioners were never denied by the State during the proceedings in the present case before the Commission. On the contrary, in its response of January 1995, the State affirmed that "the judge had been able to go to the headquarters of RIM 3 only on 24 January 1989, after the surrender. He had made a visual inspection of the unit and had immediately given orders for the detained persons to be transferred..." The State's observations on report 22/97 do not provide any substantive elements to refute the claims of the complainants and merely State that, in view of their heavy workload, it was not the norm in the country for forensic doctors to visit the place where the deaths occurred, a task which was performed by the crime prevention authorities. The State added that the Forensic Department of the National Justice System took photographs of each one of the corpses and that autopsies were conducted on the bodies of the attackers who had lost their lives in the events at La Tablada.
422. The minimum requirements for conducting investigations in the place where the events took place, in cases of this nature, are expressly provided for in the norms of the Code of Criminal Procedure in force in Argentina at the time when the events which gave rise to the complaint took place. Indeed, article 184 of the Code provides that the crime prevention authorities are required to gather evidence and other background material at the place where the incident took place and to take whatever urgent steps are considered necessary to establish the facts. The Code also provides that the authorities should ensure that no changes whatsoever might be made in the evidence or in the scene of the crime. Article 185 indicates that the intervention of the investigative authorities should cease as soon as the judge responsible for the proceedings visits the scene of the crime. Once the investigation is finished, the instruments and other material related to the crime must be immediately placed at the disposal of the said judge. Article 209 of the same Code provides that, in the case of death due to injuries, the nature, location and number of injuries must be recorded, as well as the position in which the corpse was found. Finally, article 211 provides that the judge should attempt before anything else was done to collect the weapons, instruments and any other materials which might be linked to the crime.
423. Based on the evidence contained in the record of this case and the fact that the State of Argentina has failed to refute it at this stage of the proceedings, the Commission is of the opinion that the State is responsible for its inaction. Indeed, the State failed to carry out an immediate and exhaustive investigation in the place where the incident took place, despite the fact that it was under an obligation to do so, including by its domestic legislation. Because of this, essential evidence, such as the place where the corpses were found, the position of the corpses and information as to whether or not weapons were found near to the bodies of the attackers, was not immediately collected after the barracks had been retaken. The Commission recognizes that in certain situations of conflict, the collection of evidence may be difficult; however, in the case under review, the Argentine State cannot justify its inaction in such circumstances, since, after the fighting had ended and the barracks recaptured, it had absolute control over the means of proof and of the place where the evidence was located.
424. Had the State gathered this evidence, together with the appropriate treatment of the corpses and the conduct of proper autopsies, it would have been able to demonstrate in a conclusive manner the cause, manner, place, and time of death of the attackers who lost their lives in the RIM 3 barracks at La Tablada. However, by its own inaction, the State failed to fulfil its obligation to carry out an immediate, exhaustive and impartial investigation in accordance with the provisions of article 1(1) of the American Convention. Consequently, and based on the preceding paragraphs, the Commission reaffirms its conclusions contained in its report 22/97.
425. The State of Argentina also alleges in its observations that the petitioners had access to an effective remedy within the scope of its internal jurisdiction. In this connection, it reiterates that in the proceedings initiated to investigate the presumed violations of the right to life and personal integrity of several of the attackers of the La Tablada barracks--the so called "parallel proceedings"--, the complainants had the opportunity to participate actively in the various proceedings, to be heard and to present evidence. Despite having established themselves as individual complainants, the petitioners failed to appeal the decisions handed down in the cases. Consequently, in the State's view, the complainants cannot denounce to the Commission a violation of the right guaranteed in article 25(1), since adequate and effective remedies existed which they chose not to exhaust, thereby permitting the sentences handed down in the cases in question to remain firm.
426. Moreover, the State claims that it has carried out exhaustive, complete and impartial investigations of all the complaints brought by the petitioners and that, consequently, it provided a simple and effective remedy to the victims in fulfillment of the provisions of article 25(1) of the Convention.
427. On this point, the Commission must emphasize that the State's observations do not provide any new element that would lead the Commission to reconsider the conclusions set out in its report 22/97. The Commission reiterates that, within the framework of its jurisprudence, in cases of arbitrary deprivation of life, the effective remedy which the State must guarantee to the family of the victims includes the immediate, exhaustive and impartial investigation of the facts in order to establish who the guilty parties are, apply the appropriate penalties and repair the damage caused.
428. In the case under review, the Commission determined that the Argentine State failed to carry out an investigation which fulfilled these criteria, and that it must be concluded therefore that the State violated the right of the victims to have recourse to the effective remedy provided for in article 25(1) of the American Convention.
429. Article 25(1) of the American Convention provides:
430. The Commission concludes that the victims in this case
did not have access to an effective remedy in Argentina, which must include a
complete, serious and impartial investigation of such acts. Therefore,
the State has violated article 25(1) of the American Convention in relation
with Article 1(1) of that instrument.
ii. The right to appeal a conviction to a higher court (article 8(2)(h))
431. With regard to the petitioners' allegations of violations of the right to due process, the Commission found that the special appeal procedure, the only one provided for in Argentine legislation which was applied in the Abella case, did not meet the requirements of the right of appeal mentioned in article 8(2)(h) of the American Convention.
432. In its observations on report 22/97, the State declared that this conclusion "... unlike others, is not based on concrete facts relating to the case but are posited in an abstract and speculative way as a question of principle". The State also maintains that the Commission's conclusion is "dogmatic" in character. As evidence of this, it reproduced the relevant parts of the ruling of the Attorney-General who had recommended the rejection of the complaint brought by the representatives of the convicted attackers. The State considers that
433. In the absence of new arguments by the State, the Commission reaffirms its views as expressed in report 22/97. In its analysis, the Commission took account of the Maqueda case in which it had already reviewed the special appeal proceedings provided for in Argentine legislation. The Commission also made reference to the ruling of the Argentine Supreme Court in the Giroldi case, in which the Court stated that:
434. Finally, the Commission takes note of the observations of the State about the proposals for the partial reform of Law 23.077 which was introduced in the Chamber of Deputies ("Cámara de Diputados"). That proposal envisages the application of the right of appeal provided for in the Criminal Code of Procedure to proceedings under law 23.077. According to the State's observations, the proposal is now being studied by the Commission on Criminal Legislation of the Chamber of Deputies. The Inter-American Commission considers that, if enacted, this initiative would constitute a positive step towards full compliance by Argentina with the requirements of Article 8(2)(h) of the American Convention and towards fulfillment of the respective recommendation contained in report 22/97. Similarly, the legislative initiative confirms what the Commission has repeatedly stated: that the special appeal proceedings provided for in Argentine legislation do not meet the criteria set out in Article 8(2)(h) of the American Convention.
435. In consequence of all the foregoing, the Commission reiterates its conclusion with respect to the violation of the rights of the persons who were convicted in the Abella case to appeal the verdict to a higher judge or court, guaranteed by Article 8(2)(h) of the American Convention.
D. THE RIGHT TO PERSONAL LIBERTY AND THE RIGHT TO EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW
436. The Commission did not find any evidence in the record to support the alleged violations of the right to personal liberty (Article 7(5)) of the American Convention, nor of the right to equality before the law (Article 24).
VIII. FINAL CONCLUSIONS
437. Accordingly, the Commission concludes that the Argentine State is responsible for the violations of the following articles of the American Convention, all in relation to Article 1(1):
A. Right to life (Article 4) with respect to:
B. Right to humane treatment (Article 5(2)) with respect to:
Claudia Beatriz Acosta, Miguel Angel Aguirre, Luis Alberto Díaz, Roberto Felicetti, Isabel Margarita Fernández de Mesutti, Gustavo Alberto Mesutti, José Alejandro Moreyra, Carlos Ernesto Motto, Sergio Manuel Paz, Luis Darío Ramos, Sebastián Joaquín Ramos, Claudio Néstor Rodríguez, and Claudio Omar Veiga, Juan Antonio Puigjané, Dora Esther Molina de Felicetti, Miguel Angel Faldutti, Daniel Alberto Gabioud Almirón, Juan Manuel Burgos, Cintia Alejandra Castro, and Juan Carlos Abella.
C. Right to appeal a conviction to a higher court (Article 8(2)(h)) with respect to all the persons listed in paragraph B. above who were convicted in the Abella case.
D. Right to a simple and effective remedy (Article 25(1)) with respect to the persons listed in paragraphs A. and B. above.
438. Based on the foregoing conclusions,
THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
Recommends to the Argentine State:
i. That it provide the necessary mechanisms and guarantees to undertake an independent, complete, and impartial investigation into the events beginning January 23, 1989, and analyzed in this report, for the purpose of identifying and punishing all the persons who may be responsible for the human rights violations mentioned in the conclusions set forth in Chapter VII supra.
ii. That, pursuant to its obligations under Articles 2 and 8(2)(h) of the Convention, it take the necessary actions under its constitutional system, to make fully effective, in the future, the judicial guarantee of the right to appeal for persons tried under Law 23.077.
iii. That in view of the above noted violations of the American Convention, it take the most appropriate measures to repair the harm suffered by the persons identified in paragraph 436(A) and 436(B).
439. The period of one month established on November 18, 1997 for the Argentine State to inform the Commission on the steps taken toward compliance of the above recommendations, expired without any response from the State. Therefore, the Commission decided on December 22, 1997 to make this report public and to include it in its Annual Report to the General Assembly of the OAS.
/ Commissioner Oscar Luján Fappiano, an Argentine national, did not participate in the consideration and vote on this report, pursuant to Article 19(2)(a) of the Commission's Regulations.
/ Most of the attackers were members of the "All for the Fatherland Movement", (Movimiento Todos por la Patria), or MTP. The MTP is a political movement that has operated legally in Argentina since May 1986. In fact, it participated in the elections for national and provincial authorities. Its activities were not outlawed either before or after January 1989.
/ Article 21 of the Constitution provides:
Every Argentine citizen is obliged to take up arms in defense of the country and of this Constitution, in conformity with the laws in effect for this purpose issued by the Congress and the degrees of the National Executive.
/ Velásquez Rodríguez case, Judgment of July 28, 1988, paragraph 60.
/ Idem, paragraph 66.
/ Idem, paragraph 67.
/ This specific question will be examined in the chapter of this report concerning admissibility.
/ Article 18 of the Argentine Constitution provides:
...no inhabitant of the nation may be punished without prior trial based on a law that precedes the event of the trial, nor judged by special commissions, or removed from the judges designated by the law prior to the act involved in the case.
/ Case 11.673 of Santiago Marzioni against Argentina, approved on March 15, 1996, in session 1321 of the Commission, published in the Annual Report of the IACHR 1996.
/ Resolution No. 15/89, Case 10.208 (Dominican Republic), April 14, 1989. IACHR Annual Report 1988-1989, p. 100 par. 5.
/ The European Convention on Human Rights, by Frede Castberg. A.W. Sijthoff-Leiden - Oceana Publications Inc. Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. 1974. pp.63-64.
/ ICRC, Draft Additions Protocols to the Geneva Conventions - Commentary, Geneva, Oct. 1973 (CDDH/3).
/ Id. At p. 133. The ICRC also notes that such situations need not entail the suspension of constitutional guarantees.
The ICRC suggests that internal disturbances and tensions may include any, or all, of the following characteristics:
1. mass arrests;
2. a large number of persons detained for security reasons;
3. administrative detention, especially for long periods;
4. probable ill-treatment, torture or material or psychological conditions of detention likely to be seriously prejudicial to the physical, mental or moral integrity of detainees;
5. maintaining detainees incommunicado for long periods;
6. repressive measures taken against family members of persons having a close relationship with those deprived of their liberty mentioned above;
7. the suspension of fundamental judicial guarantees, either by the proclamation of a state of emergency or by a de facto situation;
8. large-scale measures restricting personal freedom such as relegation, exile, assigned residence, displacements;
9. allegations of forced disappearances;
10. increase in the number of acts of violence (such as sequestration and hostage-taking) which endanger defenseless persons or spread terror among the civilian population. Id. at p.13
In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:
1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, color, religion or faith, sex, birth, or wealth, or any other similar criteria.
To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
b) taking of hostages;
c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;
d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgement pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
2) The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.
An impartial humanitarian body, such as the international Committee for the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict. The parties to the conflict should further endeavor to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention. The application of the proceeding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.
 A Commission of Experts convened by the International Committee of the Red Cross made the following pertinent observation: “The existence of an armed conflict is undeniable, in the sense of Article 3, of hostile action against a lawful government assumes a collective character and a minimum of organization.” See, ICRC, Reaffirmation and Development of the Laws and Customs Applicable in Armed Conflict: Report Submitted to the XXIst Conference of the Red Cross, Istanbul at p.99 (1969).
 Such large scale internal hostilities are governed by Protocol II whose material field of application applies to serious case of rebellion essentially comparable to a state of belligerency under customary international law. Protocol II develops, supplements and applies simultaneously with the provisions of common Article 3. See Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 Relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts opened for signature Dec.12, 1977, U.N. Doc. A/32/144, Annex I, II, (1977).
 Indeed, the provisions of Common Article 3 are essentially pure human rights law. Thus, as a practical matter, application of Common Article 3 by a State Party to the American Convention involved in internal hostilities imposes no additional burdens on, or disadvantages its armed forces vis-á-vis dissident groups. This is because Article 3 basically requires the state to do, in large measure, what it is already legally obliged to do under the American Convention.
 The four 1949 Geneva Conventions contain provisions applicable in peacetime for States Parties, such as the obligation for dissemination of the convention contained in Article 144 of the Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, and the authorization in Article 14 of that convention for States Parties to establish, in peacetime, hospital and safety zones.
In time of war, public danger, or other emergency that threatens the independence of security of a State Party, the state may take measures derogating from its obligations under the Convention to the extent and for the period of time strictly required by the exigencies of the situation, provided that such measures are not inconsistent with its other obligations under international law and do not involve discrimination on the ground of race, color, sex, language, religion, or social origin.
 New Rules, supra note 22, at 636. See also ICRC, COMMENTARY ON THE ADDITIONAL PROTOCOLS OF JUNE 8, 1977 TO THE GENEVA CONVENTIONS OF 1949, pars. 4429 & 4430, at 1340 (Y.Sandoz et.al.eds. 1986). Articles 4 and 15 of the Covenant and European Convention on Humanitarian Rights, respectively, are substantially similar to and serve the same purpose as Article 29(b) of the American Convention.
 "Other Treaties" Subject to the Advisory Jurisdiction of the Court (Art. 64 of the American Convention on Human Rights), Advisory Opinion OC-1/82 of September 24, 1982, Inter-Am.Ct.H.R. (Ser. A) No. 1 at para. 43 (1982).
 A breach of Article 3 by one party, such as an illegal method of combat, could not be invoked by the other party as a ground for its non-compliance with the Article’s obligatory provisions. See generally, Vienna Convention on The Law of Treaties, Art. 60.
 See, e.g. the Commission’s decisions in Case 11.673 (Argentina) (Oct.15, 1996); Report No. 74/90 (Argentina), IACHR Annual Report 1990-1991, p. 75; and Case 9260 (Jamaica), IACHR Annual Report 1987-1988, p.161.
[T]he following principles for observance by all governmental and other authorities for action in armed conflicts:
(a) That the right of the parties to a conflict to adopt means of injuring the enemy in not unlimited;
(b) That it is prohibited to launch attacks against the civilian population as such;
(c) That distinction must be made at all time between persons taking part in the hostilities and members of the civilian population to the effect that the latter be spared as much as possible...
See also U.N. General Assembly Resolution 2675, U.N. GAOR Supp. No. 28 U.N. Doc. A/8028 (1970) which elaborates on and strengthens the principles in Resolution 2444.
 As defined in the U.N. Weapons Convention, an "incendiary weapon" means any weapon or munition which is primarily designed to set fire to objects or to cause burn injury to persons through the action of flame, heat, or a combination thereof, produced by a chemical reaction of a substance delivered on the target. See footnote No 32.
 United Nations Conference on Prohibitions or Restriction of Use of Certain Conventional Weapons : Final Act, opened for signature Apr. 10, 1981, U.N. Doc. A/CONF. 95/15 (1980). The Convention is an “umbrella” treaty to which are attached three optional protocol agreements, each containing specific limitations on the use of particular conventional weapons. In addition to the Incendiary Weapons Protocol (Protocol III), the Convention incorporates the Protocol on Non-detectable Fragments (Protocol I) and the Protocol on Land Mines (Protocol II). Id. Under this structure, the provisions of the Convention apply to all three protocols. At the time a State ratifies or accepts the Convention, it must indicate its consent to become bound by at least two of these Protocols. Id. art. 4(3). Thereafter, the State can become a party to the other Protocol, if it so consents. Id. art. 4(4). On ratifying the Convention on September 15, 1995, Argentina declared its consent to be bound by all three protocols thereto. See NL Nr. 24536, published in the Boletín Oficial of 15 October 1995.
 The Commission notes parenthetically in this regard that the War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has found such violations of common Article 3 to entail the individual criminal responsibility of the perpetrator(s). See Statute of the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia Since 1991, originally published as Annex to the Report of the Secretary General Prusuant to Paragraph 2 of Security Council Resolution 808 S/25704 (1993) reprinted at 32 I.L.M. 1159. See also Prosecutor v. Dusko Tadic a/d/a “Dule,” No. IT-94-1-AR712, slip op. Sec. 86-95 (Int’l Trip. for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of Int’l Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of Former Yugoslavia Since 1991, 1995).
 The Effect of Reservations on the Entry into Force of the American Convention on Human Rights (Arts. 74 and 75). Advisory Opinion OC-2/82 of September 24, 1982, Inter-American Court of Human Rights (Series A) No. 2 (1982), pars. 29 and 33, respectively.
a) Argentina - Criminal Investigation into the Attack on the Third Infantry Regiment of La Tablada (AMR 13/02/89), June 1989.
b) Argentina - The Attack on the Third Infantry Regiment of La Tablada: Investigations into Allegations of Torture, "Disappearances" and Extrajudicial Executions (AMR 13/01/90), March 1990.
 It is worth noting that Article 42 of the Regulations of the Commission provides that the facts reported in the petition transmitted to the State shall be presumed to be true if that State "...has not provided the pertinent information, as long as other evidence does not lead to a different conclusion."
The practice of international and domestic courts shows that direct evidence, whether testimonial or documentary, is not the only type of evidence that may be legitimately considered in reaching a decision. Circumstantial evidence, indicia, and presumptions may be considered, so long as they lead to conclusions consistent with the facts.
Judgment of January 20, 1989, Godínez Cruz Case, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, par. 136.
 The Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture has been in effect in Argentina since April 30, 1989, after the facts analyzed here. However, according to Article 22 thereof, it already entered into force on February 22, 1987, thirty days after the second instrument of ratification was deposited.
 Judicial Guarantees in States of Emergency (Arts. 27(2), 25 and 8 of the American Convention on Human Rights), Advisory Opinion OC-9/87 of October 6, 1987. Series A: Judgments and Opinions No. 9 (1987), Inter-American Court of Human Rights, par. 27.
 The Commission has issued a report with respect to various cases against Costa Rica regarding the right protected by Article 8(2)(h), which was limited in that country by certain provisions of the Code of Penal Procedure. That Code precluded the possibility of review by a higher court in cases involving lesser periods of imprisonment, fines, etc.
Report No. 24/92, OAS/Ser.l/V/II.82, Doc. 20, October 2, 1992, par. 30.
 See Bidart Campos, Germán J., Tratado Elemental de Derecho Constitucional Argentino, Tomo II, EDIAR Sociedad Anónima Editora Comercial, Industrial y Financiera, Buenos Aires, 1992, p. 324. The Commission notes Professor Bidart Campos' opinion that Article 8 of the American Convention requires the right of review in the criminal procedure, not only before federal courts, but also in the provincial jurisdiction.
Everyone convicted of a crime shall have the right to his conviction and sentence being reviewed by a higher tribunal according to law.
The reservation formulated by some European countries to this provision was later reproduced on Optional Protocol 7 to the European Convention on Human Rights. It is worth noting that Argentina has not formulated any reservations in this respect, and has therefore accepted the entry into force of the right to review in its most ample sense, as it is enshrined in both the Covenant and the American Convention.
 The military uprising carried out by junior officers was the first confrontation between factious of the army in three decades, that resulted in loss of life (including a colonel who committed suicide).
The procedures of Articles 48 to 50 have a broader objective as regards the international protection of human rights: compliance by the States with their obligations and, more specifically, with their legal obligation to cooperate in the investigation....
Velásquez Rodríguez Case, Preliminary Objections, Judgment of June 26, 1987, para. 59. In that regard, the Commission has held that
...the Convention, therefore, obliges States to furnish information requested by the Commission in the course of developing an individual case.
Report No. 28/96, Case 11.297 (Guatemala), October 16, 1996, IACHR Annual Report 1996, p.407, par. 40.
 The main analysis on the duty to investigate, which was not complied with in this case, is in Chapter IV.B.iv supra, although considerations in that regard are also developed in the analysis of each of the allegations of violations of Articles 4 and 5 of the American Convention.
 Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Velásquez Rodríguez Case, Judgment of June 26, 1987, Preliminary Objections, para. 88; see also Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Neira Alegría Case, Judgment of December 11, 1991, Preliminary Objections, para. 30.
 Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Velásquez Rodríguez Case, Sentence of July 29, 1988, Ser. no. 4, pars. 127-18; Godínez Cruz Case, Sentence of January 20, 1989, Series C No. 5, par. 133-134; Fairén Garbi and Solís Corrales Case, Sentence of March 15, 1989, Series C No. 6, pars. 130-131.
 A copy of that case was not sent by the State with its observations, nos does it appear in the list of the so-called "parallel proceedings". However, Case No. 9969 included in that list is labeled "investigation of the events reported by René Miguel Rojas and others in Case No. 1722/3". according to the State's communication of January 9, 1995, Case 9969 "...was closed by a decision of total and provisional discontinuance ("sobreseimiento total y provisional"). There was no complaint (querella).
 See Report No. 10/95, Case 10,580, Ecuador, idem fn. 90 supra, par. 45; report No. 28/96, Case 11.297, Guatemala, IACHR Annual Report, 1996, OAS/Ser.L/V/II.95, Doc. 7 rev., March 14, 1997, par. 72.
Article 25 is closely related to the general obligation under Article 1(1) of the American Convention, when it assigns functions of protection to the internal legislation of the States parties. (unofficial translation)
Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Castillo Páez Case, Judgment of November 3, 1997, par. 83.