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Argentina 'Dirty War' defendant may have been murdered to stop disclosures: judge

[JURIST] Argentinian coast guard officer and torture suspect Hector Febres [TrialWatch profile] may have been murdered to prevent him from disclosing human rights violations committed during Argentina's Dirty War [Global Security backgrounder; JURIST news archive], according a resolution written by Argentinian Judge Sandra Arroyo reported by Reuters Monday. Arroyo has ordered that the two coast guard officials supervising Febres' imprisonment be placed under arrest for allegedly allowing Febres' killers access to him. Febres was found dead [AP report] in his military jail cell with high levels of cyanide in his blood on December 10.

Febres went on trial [JURIST report] in October on charges of kidnapping and torturing four people at the Navy Mechanics School [BBC backgrounder] during the Dirty War. He was the first person to face trial for human rights violations at the school, the largest secret prison run by the Argentinian military during the 1976-83 Dirty War campaign. The trial's verdict had been expected in December and if convicted, Febres would have faced life in prison. Argentinian coast guard chief Carlos Fernandez was fired [JURIST report] shortly after Febres' death. Reuters has more.

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