Sunday, January 11, 2015

Military discipline of another retired military official

On January 9, 2015, Uruguayan Minister of Defense, Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro, announced in a press conference that retired General Willie Purtscher would receive a disciplinary sanction and would be subjected to a Tribunal of Honor for his comments on the case of the recently deceased General Miguel Dalmao.  Willie Purtscher published a letter in the weekly (Jan 8-14, 2015) newspaper "Busqueda" in which he sought "vengeance" against the prosecutors and judges, whom he mentioned by name, who had incarcerated General Dalmao, warning that they will not sleep "in peace" because "they will be persecuted."

General Dalmao had been tried and convicted in November 2010 for being co-author of the homicide of Nibia Sabalsagaray, a communist militant and professor of literature who was illegally taken from her residence in Montevideo and tortured and killed the same day (June 29,1974).  He was sentenced to 28 years in prison.  President José Mujica, a former political prisoner himself, visited him in the Military Hospital in March 2014.  General Dalmao was the first military officer to go to prison for crimes against humanity committed by the dictatorship (1973-1985) who was still on active duty when convicted.  General Dalmao died on December 29, 2014 and was buried on December 30th.

General Willie Purtscher retired in 2013 and was in the same graduating class as Dalmao and his friend.  Minister of Defense Fernandez Huidobro stated in his press conference that all retired military officials could be sanctioned for 4 years after their retirement with the same measures as any official on active duty.  [The author of this blog notes that this violates the jurisprudence of the inter-American system which considers any retired military official to be a civilian and subject only to civilian jurisdiction.]  The Defense Minister explained further that retired General Purtscher would receive a disciplinary sanction, a Tribunal of Honor would be convened to try him and the legal department of the Ministry will study whether his declarations constitute a crime, in which case the matter would be referred to the appropriate criminal jurisdiction. The Defense Minister noted that disciplinary sanctions are common in the military and that every officer, when he enters Military School  learns that certain actions receive certain sanctions.  The Minister said that the sanctions to be placed on General Purtscher could not be made public because, according to the modus operandi of the Armed Forces, its resolutions are only made known to the person being sanctioned.  The decision is handed to the person in question in a sealed envelope.  Once the sanction is completed, the decision is signed and returned.

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