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Uruguay: confrontation of military officers with judicial system.

Uruguayan General Miguel Dalmao in October 4, 2010. General Dalmao is the first prosecution of an active military man after the military regime.

About 30 retired Uruguayan military officers will be summoned to court for their alleged involvement in human rights violations during the 1973-1985 dictatorship, the local press reported on Monday.

With the end of the summer holidays, Uruguayan courts will resume their activities between February 7th and 12th, when the Judge Mariana Mota and the prosecutor Ana Maria Tellechea will begin questioning 15 former military officers, according to press reports.

Those officers will be asked about the disappearance of Communist Party member Horacio Gelos Bonilla, a process that is part of the case against former dictator Juan Maria Bordaberry on charges of violating the Constitution.

Like all February 1st in Uruguay, the judicial system will resume its normal activity after the Judicial Fair (vacations).

When the judges return to their offices, many judges will  handle controversial cases of high public exposure, like some cases involving  members of the Uruguayan Armed Forces. According to what happened in previous occasions,  a significant number of retired military will be accused for killings and disappearances during the Uruguayan military regime.

Until now, the accused military participated in the courts proceedings without  major objections. But since the detention of the General in activity Miguel Dalmao,  some of the officials reacted.

With the imminence of new citations and possible prosecution, a group of 29 military promotions formed the group Forum for Freedom and Amity, who sent a letter to the commanders of the three armed forces (Army, Navy and Air Force) demanding action to prevent further prosecutions of officers.

The group, composed of retired and active military, was formed in 2010 after the imprisonment  of General Miguel Dalmao allegedly accused of being involved in the death of the communist militant Nibia Sabalsagaray.

In 1985, after a similar situation, the Commander in Chief of the Army Hugo Medina announced to the political leaders , specially to Mr. Wilson Ferreira (the leader of the National Party) that if the Judicial System send any judicial request to his officers, he was going to keep the judicial indictments in his safe box, resisting the arrests. In 1985, such possibility  of military confrontation with the political power was the preamble to the approval of a law of amnesty for the military, the so called “Ley de Caducidad de la Pretensión Punitiva del Estado”, subsequently ratified by the majority of Uruguayans in three referendums.

Previously, in 1984, during the last months of the military dictatorship, both military and politicians of the Broad Front (Frente Amplio, now in government) and the Partido Colorado entered into an agreement to avoid any prosecution of military officers, the so called “Pacto del Club Naval”. The National Party did not agree with that settlement.