RIGHT TO FAIR TRIAL AND DUE PROCESS OF LAW
American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man – Article XXV. No person may be deprived of his liberty except in the cases and according to the procedures established by preexisting law.
No person may be deprived of liberty for nonfulfillment of obligations of a purely civil character.
Every individual who has been deprived of his liberty has the right to have the legality of his detention ascertained without delay by a court, and the right to be tried without undue delay or, otherwise, to be released. He also has the right to humane treatment during the time he is in custody.
Article XXVI. Every accused person is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.
Every person accused of an offense has the right to be given an impartial and public hearing, and to be tried by courts previously established in accordance with preexisting laws, and not to receive cruel, infamous or unusual punishment.1
1. Since enactment of the laws defining new crimes against the security of the State and transferring the competence to try civilians to the Military Courts, the Commission has frequently received denunciations alleging that those courts have violated the guarantees of due process of law.
Authorization for arrests and searches
2. According to information provided to the Commission in Case 2102, which coincides with the allegations in other cases taken up by the Commission:
... the military and police authorities do not request a warrant from any judge, neither for arrests nor for the raiding of homes of individuals suspected of violating the Law of National Security, despite the fact that this law authorizes military judges to issue such warrants and even makes provision for requests for warrants of a general or area-wide nature.2
3. The claimant in Case 1945 filed a similar denunciation:
At present, any military or police official appears to have sufficient authority to arrest an individual. There are no standards governing the minimum rank necessary to order such actions or stipulating which units are competent to carry them out. On the contrary, repression of activities regarded as “subversive”... is regarded as a mission shared by all branches of the Armed Forces and the police. On this basis, members of each branch of the Armed Forces and of the police act autonomously, both in making arrests and searches, and in investigations. Judicial intervention is never in advance, nor are judicial warrants ordering searches or detention used; on the contrary, each body of the military hands over to the Military Judges the “results” of its repressive action, which is carried out in a totally spontaneous fashion.
The legal basis for such action consists of the provisions of the Military Criminal Code and of Military Code of Criminal Procedure which refer to military crimes uncovered in the military units. According to those norms, each unit is empowered to conduct the initial investigation into said crimes; only later must it submit the case to the Military Examining Judges, with the report of a “prosecuting judge” appointed by the head of the unit. This system was obviously developed for crimes committed by military personnel. But through the subterfuge of classifying political crimes as “military crimes” (as was done in the Law of State Security), a situation is arrived at where each military unit sets out to hunt down civilians “delinquents.” This is done without any delimitation of areas of jurisdiction, and with the intervention of the (Military) Judge allowed only after the “Prosecuting Judge” (of the unit) has so ordered, after his preliminary investigation into the case.
4. The allegations in the above paragraph were transmitted to the Government of Uruguay as part of Case 1945, in a note dated August 7, 1975; however, to date the Government has not answered these charges.3
Incommunicado detention; time limit for presentation before the judge; time limit for the bringing of charges
5. The following allegations were made in the information provided to the Commission in connection with Case 2102:
The existence of a time limit for incommunicado detention is not recognized; nor is the obligation to submit the detained person to a judge; there is no recognition of a time limit for the release of a prisoner without charges, for announcing the nature of the accusations, for notifying the family of the arrest or informing them of the place of detention.
There is also no recognized time limit for when the prisoner is submitted to a military judge to make his statement, or for the indictment or for the release of a prisoner.4
a. Incommunicado detention
6. With respect to incommunicado detention, in its observations on the Report of May 24, 1977, the Government of Uruguay limited its comments to a discussion of the provisions of the Military Code of Criminal Procedure, according to which:
The Examination Judge may order incommunicado detention of the accused should such action be advisable for the success of the investigation. However, except in extraordinary cases, incommunicado detention shall not be for more than two days and shall in no case prevent the accused from the following:
1. Transmitting to his defense counsel, in the presence of the Judge, the information necessary for his defense.
2. Being present for statements made by witnesses, should he or his defense counsel so request.
3. Communicating, in writing, with the head of the establishment wherein he is being held under detention or with the judicial authorities.
4. Performing those civil acts that are urgent in nature and that in the opinion of the Judge, can prejudice neither his criminal responsibility nor the purposes of the indictment proceedings (Sumario) (Article 192 of the Military Code of Criminal Procedure).
7. As to the extent to which such norms are observed in practice, the Government of Uruguay reported only that three new Military Examining Judges had been appointed, “thereby increasing their number to a total of six, in order to be able to provide prompt attention to the indictments being processed.” No information is provided as to whether a time limit is recognized for making known the nature of the charges, or for notifying the family of the arrest and of the place of detention.
8. As to incommunicado detention, in practice, the claimant in Case 1945 denounced the following:
Incommunicado detention. The system in practice is that detainees are held totally incommunicado until issuance of the legal order lifting the detention incommunicado (when the detainees are brought before a judge), or until some other decision is taken, without any time limit whatever with respect to a purely administrative arrest.
When a Military Judge orders that incommunicado detention be lifted, this is normally done at the time the final decision is made either to indict or to free the individual being detained. This means that incommunicado detention persists during the period before the case is brought before the judge (for which there is no maximum time limit, as noted above), and also during the time the judge delays making his decision (for which there is also no time limit in force). The foregoing commonly adds up to a period of months.
9. The pertinent parts of this denunciation were forwarded to the Government of Uruguay through a note of August 7, 1975, but to date the Government has not answered the charges made in the preceding paragraph.
b. Presentation before a judge
10. With regard to presentation of the detainee before a judge and the time limit for bringing the prisoner before a military judge in order to make a statement, in the aforementioned observations referred to above the Government of Uruguay limited its remarks to the following:
There exists, in fact, a specific norm that states that any government official who apprehends an individual must present that individual, directly and without delay, before the corresponding military judge, and will incur legal responsibility if, without justified cause, he does not act accordingly.
If more than 24 hours are allowed to pass before such action is taken, this action being possible, the official shall be removed from his post (Article 184 of the Military Penal Procedure Code).
11. Although it cites the text of the law, the Government makes no reference to the question of whether or not the provision in question is observed in practice; nor does it discuss what is regarded, in practice, as “justified cause” for noncompliance with the time limit in question.
c. Time limit for release of a prisoner held without charges
12. With regard to noncompliance with the time limit established for release of an individual against whom charges have not been filed, in its observations on the Commission's report of May 24, 1977 the Government of Uruguay refers not to this point but rather to the possibility of requesting provisional freedom, i.e., release on bail. With regard to the latter possibility, the Government points out that an individual may only be released on bail, after a “preliminary ruling,” under the following circumstances:
If, in the course of the criminal action, it appears from the judge's consideration of the preliminary ruling that due to the nature of the charge the sentence to be imposed will be confinement in a penitentiary, the Constitution of the Republic prohibits the provisional release of the indicted individual.
13. The above information, it should be pointed out, refers only to an individual who has been “indicted,” i.e., accused; it does not refer to the possibility of obtaining provisional release before the indictment order has been issued. The time taken for the issuance of the latter, in the majority of cases processed by the Commission, has amounted to a period of months.
14. Furthermore, the Government's observations make no reference to any time limit for granting provisional release, and thus fails to clarify whether there is a recognized time limit “for the indictment or for the release of the prisoner.”
Domestic legal remedies
a. Appeal against the final sentence
15. In Case 1923, in response to the IACHR's request for information, the claimant informed the Commission with respect to legal remedies against final sentences as follows:
Final sentences can be appealed before the Supreme Military Tribunal, in second and last instance. But this Tribunal has established a policy of “severity” which systematically upholds the most iniquitous and flagrantly illegal judgments.5
16. In its observations on the Report of May 24, 1977, the Government of Uruguay makes the following comment regarding the above:
Against the final sentences of second instance handed down by the military courts, there lies the appeal of cassation before the Court of Justice, and if there is any illegality in the judgment, the appeal of cassation should be successful, and the Court of Justice should declare the nullity of the judgment which has been challenged...
...For such purposes, the Court of Justice (normally composed of five members) is expanded to include two high-ranking military officers appointed by the President of the Republic with the approval of the Legislative Organ (Articles 507 and 508 of the Military Penal Procedure Code).
In the last five years, since entry into force of Law Nº 14.068 defining and establishing punishment for the crimes of lese majesty (crimes against the nation), no more than 40 appeals have been processed before the Court and all of them were denied.
This is the most eloquent fact demonstrating that the individuals concerned have not established “illegalities” in the judgments of the Supreme Military Tribunal.
17. The Commission, without the information at its disposal necessary for such purposes, cannot assess the significance of the fact that of the 40 appeals processed, all have been rejected by the Court of Justice. To make such an assessment, the Commission would have to have corresponding data regarding the number of appeals that were rejected for procedural reasons, including those that were rejected summarily. The Commission would also be interested to know whether procedural obstacles exist such as those alleged in the following paragraph.
b. Appeal against the order of indictment
18. In Case 1923 the same claimant added the following:
The decision ordering an individual's indictment cannot be appealed. As an innovation, the 1972 Law of State Security, in defining a series of new political crimes classified as military crimes, stipulated that indictments for those crimes could be appealed before the Supreme Court of Justice, integrated with two members of the military.
It was pointed out that this appeal was a great guarantee, that it would subject decisions of military judges to the highest independent court. However, this remedy of appeal is practically useless.
This results not only from the Draconian criteria which the Supreme Court adopts in deciding appeals; rather, it also results from two circumstances due to which an appeal is very rarely filed.
The first of these factors is the slowness with which the appeal is processed and its interference with provisional freedom. The Court resolves the appeal by decision in a session which is convoked after the file has been circulated individually among its seven members, each of whom is granted a period of 90 days to study it. The foregoing takes one to two years, and during this time it is impossible to request provisional freedom. The result if that when there is some possibility of obtaining provisional freedom, it is necessary to renounce the possibility of appealing the indictment order because otherwise the indicted individual would suffer a much longer period of imprisonment.
The second factor is the time limit for filing the appeal. The appeal must be filed by the defense within three days following the indictment. As interpreted, the time limit includes non-working days, Sundays and holidays. This seems to be an insignificant problem, but in fact it is usually decisive, especially due to the practice of the majority of the courts of Examining Judges, who at the time of the indictment do not allow the detained individual to designate any defense attorney other than one who is present at the time of this proceeding (the date of which is unknown beforehand). Consequently, the detained individual ends up with a court-appointed attorney. A defense attorney of his choice may thereafter assume responsibility for his defense, but only through a procedure which takes more than the three days allowed for filing the appeal.
19. In its observations on the Report of May 24, 1977, the Government of Uruguay does not dispute these allegations regarding the impossibility, in practice, of exercising the right of appeal against an indictment; its only observation is that any “slowness” that may exist is due to the fact that:
I the appeal must be examined by seven members (of the Court of Justice), it is natural that the procedure is slower than if it were to be examined by one judge who would hand down the final decision.
20. The Government adds that the slowness referred to above may also be a result of “circumstantial causes which may also arise during and ordinary criminal trial, and not a military trial.”
21. It therefore appears that the Government of Uruguay admits the basic allegations of the claimant, that is, first, that the exceedingly lengthy period of time that is needed to obtain a final decision from the Court of Appeals, as well as the impossibility of obtaining provisional freedom until a decision on the appeal has been reached, has the effect of discouraging the appellant, except in cases where the sentence is very severe. Moreover, the very brief time limit for filing the appeal together with the other factors listed by the claimant, in many cases make it impossible to appeal.
Public nature of the proceedings
22. In the information provided to the Commission under Case 1923, which coincides with other information the Commission has received from reliable sources, the claimant alleges the following:
Military trials in Uruguay are not only not public, but are in fact secret, even for the defense.
This does not mean that defense counsel does not have access to the legal file. He does: but what happens is that the real elements of judgment are not there.
This occurs in two different ways: the existence of background information from a secret source, substantiated in a manner over which the defense attorney has no control; and the constant practice of military judges and prosecutors of failing to set forth any reasons or justification in their judgments and reports.
23. In its observations on the Report of the Commission of May 24, 1977, the Government of Uruguay states the following in this regard:
Precisely, the only public proceeding that now exists under Uruguay's positive procedural law is the trial before the Supreme Military Tribunal. (Underlined in the original).
Moreover, Article 279, paragraph 1 of the Military Code of Criminal Procedure recognizes, as a principle, that “the final summary hearing shall be public.” And only the Supreme Tribunal, on the basis of extraordinary circumstances due to reasons of subject matter or of security, may decide to suspend the public nature of the proceedings, which in principle is a part of every case which is argued before this high body (Article 279, cited above).
24. In regard to the foregoing the Commission notes that the Government refers only to the legal provisions in force, without making any reference to observance of the same in practice. Application of such standards is limited, according to the Government's statement, to the military trial of second instance (i.e., on appeal). Even in this appeal, the public nature of the proceedings governs “as a principle”—with the exceptions noted above. However, with respect to the criteria used in practice to determine the existence of the “extraordinary circumstances” that can justify a second-instance trial or appeal carried out in secret, as well as the frequency with which this occurs, the Government remains silent.
25. With respect to the existence of background information from a secret source which is not contained in the court file, in its comments to the earlier Report of May 1977, the Government of Uruguay makes the following observations:
As to the access of defense attorneys to the files, it should be clarified that through a verbal request (the Judges grant audiences to defense attorneys twice each week, during periods of two to three hours), they have access to all the proceedings, and may take any notes they wish or make recordings if they so desire. (Underlined in the original).
26. In this regard, the Commission observes that from a reading of the Government's statement cited above, it is not really clear whether the expression “all the proceedings” includes in fact all the background information, consultations and other information supplied to or placed at the disposal of the corresponding judge. It is not clear because from the Government's statement it is not possible to determine whether or not it is true that “the real elements of judgment” considered by the judge do not appear in the legal file, there existing “background information from a secret source, substantiated in a manner over which the defense attorney has no control.”
27. The Commission notes that it is also not clear, in view of Article 37 of the Law of National Security which makes provision for the existence of secret information which is not to be processed before the competent organ of the system of Military Justice, whether the effect of this provision is to prevent access of defense attorneys to important information which could affect the conduct of the defense and, consequently, the possibility of effectively exercising the rights of his client.
Impartiality of Military Judges
28. With regard to the impartiality of the judges of the military courts, the Commission refers the reader to the statement made in Chapter I, paragraph 29.
29. According to information provided to the Commission under Case 1929, it is alleged that:
A military judge lacks independence because he is subordinate to his superiors, from whom he receives orders in keeping with the established military hierarchy. He cannot decline to carry out an order from a superior, for if he were to do so, he would be relieved of his command—that is, he would no longer have any authority. The manner in which a military man behaves in fulfilling the task assigned him will play a decisive role in determining future promotions; if he does his duty well, that is a merit to be considered, and he gets a demerit if his performance fails to please his superiors. His degree of dependence is determined by the very nature of military organizations. Consequently, justice becomes a derivation of the policies inspired and directed by the military command; a judge who tried to contradict or alter those policies would be viewed as an obstructionist, he would inevitable lose his job, and this would be harmful to his military career.
30. Along the same lines, the following is denounced in Case 2101:
The military justice does not form part of the judicial authority but operates in subordination to the military hierarchy. The Code of Military Penal Procedure (Código de Procedimiento Penal Militar) requires a specific order from above before the military judge can assume jurisdiction in a case, even though this right of jurisdiction is exclusively theirs.
31. The pertinent parts of the denunciation contained in Case 1929 were forwarded to the Government of Uruguay through a note of August 8, 1975, with a request for the corresponding information. However, to date that Government has not answered the charges made in the preceding paragraph, omitting any reference to same in its response of May 18, 1976.
Situation of defense attorneys
32. With regard to the situation of defense attorneys in Uruguay, the Commission received a transcription of a paragraph taken from a publication of the Joint Commanders in Chief of the Armed Forces of Uruguay, the text of which is reproduced below:
Another recurring attitude of the subversives, on being detained, was to insist upon all the rights and prerogatives that the judicial order which they tried to destroy offers to citizens, thus seeking to protect the criminal and treacherous acts which they committed against that order, as well as having a whole group of specialized lawyers available, most of whom being closely linked to the organization. The list of lawyers defending those held for sedition, in fact, contains some 20 names, among whom figure members of the MLN (T), various others being directly or indirectly implicated in subversive activities, and some others, without any well known records which would allow them to be included in these categories for one reason or another, gave their professional knowledge and experience to the service of the subversives.
Alejandro Artucio Rodríguez; Ronal Juan Capell Borthagaray; Rafael Berciano; Ariel Collazo; Edgardo Carvalho Silveira; María Inés Capucho Rodríguez; Marcos Canetti Nakson; José Enrique Díaz Chavez; Arturo J. Dubra Naranjo; Alba Dell'Acqua Houget; Mario Dell'Acqua Houget; Hugo Fabbri; María Esther Gilio de Queigeiro; José Harari; Ruth Hernández; Irma Masdeu; Carlos Martínez Moreno; Juan Carlos Orticochea; Wilmar Olivera Jackson; Juan Pablo Schroeder Otero; Ricardo Vercellino; Alfredo Mario Astringarraga San Vicente; Julio Alberto Caymaris Pereyra, etc.6
33. With respect to the paragraph quoted above, the Government of Uruguay in its observations on the Report of May 24, 1977, states the following:
It should be stated clearly that this fits into a context that gives it its true meaning, and which has not been reproduced in its entirety; as in so many other instances throughout the entire Report, the preference has been to mutilate the text, by presenting partial transcriptions whose purpose is to induce the reader to form an erroneous judgment, as part of an overall approach (Underscored in the original).
34. To demonstrate these assertions, the Government then transcribes the paragraphs that precede and follow the paragraph quoted by the Commission.7
From a reading of the paragraphs from the text of La Subversión, Las Fuerzas Armadas al Pueblo Oriental quoted by the Government of Uruguay, in its observations on the earlier Report of the Commission of May, 1977, it is not apparent why the Commission should modify its assessment of the Uruguayan Government's attitude toward defense attorneys.
35. Some of the lawyers named in the list cited above are now in exile; but other remain in Uruguay as defense attorneys, under difficult circumstances.
36. In general terms, the allegation received by the Commission, from various sources and on repeated occasions, is that in Uruguay defense attorneys live in an atmosphere characterized by the fear that for the mere fact of representing their clients they themselves may become the object of official hostility.
37. Among the denunciations received by the Commission with regard to defense attorneys is Case 2576, wherein the claimant states the following in connection with the arrest and indictment of Dr. Mario Dell'Acqua Houget:
MARIO DELL'ACQUA HOUGET – November 5, 1976
This individual practiced law in Montevideo, at the same time he held the post of Secretary of the University School of Fine Arts, a branch of the University. He was first detained at the time the military authorities occupied the University, officially naming intervening authorities to run the same, and was held for three months, though he was never charged with a crime. He was subsequently arrested and indicted by the military courts on November 5, 1976. He was charged with not having prevented students from the aforementioned educational center from distributing leaflets from illegal organizations, during the time he was carrying out his functions as Secretary. In the judicial resolution ordering his indictment, a fact mentioned as revealing “his subversive sympathies” is that he was in charge of the legal defense of a large number of individuals accused of political crimes. Based on such facts, proceedings were initiated to try him for the crime of “assisting subversive associations,” punishable with from 24 months to eight years of deprivation of liberty. It is disturbing that the assumption, as a professional, of the legal defense in trials of clients accused of having committed crimes against the public order or security of the State can be considered, by a military court, as almost criminal.
38. In the same case, the claimant also denounced other events related to the situation of defense attorneys, alleging the following with regard to another attorney.
RODOLFO SCHURMANN PACHECO – September 30, 1977
Dr. Schurmann, 55 years of age, is one of the most distinguished criminal lawyers in Uruguay. Assistant professor of criminal law at the University of Montevideo he has served as public defender, appointed by the Supreme Court, in the regular civil courts for a number of years. He has written a number of works on criminal law, gaining world renown. His law office has defended a number of individuals detained by military authorities for political activities. Schurman has not himself been involved in any kind of political activity.
He was arrested by military forces in the early morning hours of September 30, 1977. The Military Examining Judge accused him of having committed three crimes in connection with the defense of a client, Mr. Olivari, indicted for political reasons. The Judge claimed that Olivari had not formally authorized him to act as his defense counsel. The law requires that the judicial file include a document, signed by the accused, appointing the defense counsel. Mr. Schurmann declared that the corresponding document had been presented and that, when he was notified that it had been misplaced, he turned in a second document of appointment, which also was to disappear. On the basis of the foregoing, he was indicted for:
1) The crime of “aid to subversive associations,” provided for under the Military Criminal Code, since despite the fact that he allegedly had not been appointed by Olivari, he had taken up his case, acting voluntarily in an attempt to protect an individual who belonged to a subversive organization.
2) The crime of “usurpation of functions,” since he had allegedly usurped the functions of the military defender who ought to have been appointed to defend Olivari, in view of the absence of an appointment in writing.
3) The crime of “contempt” for having protested his arrest and trial.
Such accusations are, as can be seen, absurd. No attorney in Uruguay has ever been criminally accused of this type of matter In those frequent cases where a document appointing the defense attorney is misplaced during the proceeding, the attorney is merely asked to obtain another and present it.
The pertinent parts of the denunciation in Case 2567, transcribed above, were transmitted to the Government of Uruguay.
39. According to information received under Case 2102, the situation of defense attorneys can be summarized as follows:
Intimidation, harassment and imprisonment of defense lawyers have the effect that more and more prisoners are reduced to having defensores de oficio (court-appointed counsel), and not lawyers of their own choice as defense counsel. This closes de facto the last possibility of lodging complaints against illegal and inhuman treatment.
40. It should be pointed out that the Government of Uruguay, in its observations on the Report of the Commission of May 24, 1977, reported to the IACHR in the following terms:
An example of defense attorneys involved in subversive activities is Dr. Mario Dell'Acqua Houget, who is presently indicted for the crime provided for under Article 60 (VI) of the Military Penal Code “Aid to the subversive associations,” and who handled 176 cases of indicted subversives. He has three civilian defense attorneys to handle his defense. It should also be emphasized that in the current year 50 percent of the criminals presently indicted have requested that the civilian defense attorneys be replaced by court-appointed military defense counsels.
41. From the response transcribed above, it is not clear whether the proceedings undertaken against the attorney Dell'Acqua, which is the only example cited, are the result merely of his participation as defense counsel in 176 cases of “indicted subversives,” or whether it is based on other grounds. Nor is the meaning clear of the fact that 50 percent of the accused have requested the substitution of their civilian defenders by court-appointed military defense counsel. Rather, the response of the Government of Uruguay confirms the judgments made by the Commission regarding the serious difficulties which civilian lawyers face in practicing their profession.
1 American Convention on Human Rights – Article 8.
1. Every person has the right to a hearing, with due guarantees and within a reasonable time, by a competent, independent, and impartial tribunal, previously established by law, in the substantiation of any accusation of a criminal nature made against him or for the determination of his rights and obligations of a civil, labor, fiscal, or any other nature.
2. Every person accused of a criminal offense has the right to be presumed innocent so long as his guilt has not been proven according to law. During the proceedings, every person is entitled, with full equality, to the following minimum guarantees:
a. the right of the accused to be assisted without charge by a translator or interpreter, if he does not understand or does not speak the language of the tribunal or court;
b. prior notification in detail to the accused of the charges against him;
c. adequate time and means for the preparation of his defense;
d. the right of the accused to defend himself personally or to be assisted by legal counsel of his own choosing, and to communicate freely and privately with his counsel;
e. the inalienable right to be assisted by counsel provided by the state, paid or not as the domestic law provides, if the accused does not defend himself personally or engage his own counsel within the time period established by law;
f. the right of the defense to examine witnesses present in the court and to obtain the appearance, as witnesses, of experts or other persons who may throw light on the facts;
g. the right not to be compelled to be a witness against himself or to plead guilty; and
h. the right to appeal the judgment to a higher court.
3. A confession of guilt by the accused shall be valid only if it is made without coercion of any kind.
4. An accused person acquitted by a nonappealable judgment shall not be subjected to a new trial for the same cause.
5. Criminal proceedings shall be public, except insofar as may be necessary to protect the interests of justice.
2 Article 12 of that Law states: “Judges competent to take up military crimes may issue search and seizure warrants for house searches on an individual joint, collective or zonal basis.”
3 Case 1945 includes 25 individuals who according to the denunciation were detained under irregular circumstances.
4 Under Case 2102, 5 individuals being held under incommunicado detention are included, according to the denunciation.
5 According to the denunciation, Case 1923 includes approximately 35 individuals.
6 República Oriental del Uruguay, Junta de Comandantes en Jefe, La Subversión: Las Fuerzas Armadas al Pueblo Oriental, Volume I, page 8. (Montevideo, 1976).
7 All the paragraphs in question are presented below for the reader's information, in their original context:
Terrorists were also murdering and slaughtering government agents, police officers and members of the FFAA, the sole motive and justification being that the victims had fulfilled their duty to defend the institutions and the law.
Torture and sadism were also used in the cowardly murders of Dan A. Mitrione, of Inspector Héctor Morán Charquero, of the victims of April 14 and May 18, 1972, of Colonel Artigas Alvarez and Colonel Ramón Trabal, and in the horrible death of Pascasio Ramón Báez, a humble rural peasant, inflicted through an injection of Pentothal.
These loathsome crimes confirmed the homicidal cold-bloodedness and the absence of any trace of humane feeling among members of the terrorist groups. The murder of Mitrione revealed the intensity of their hatred for the United States, inculcated through Communist indoctrination. The last of the murders revealed the emptiness of their slogan self-proclaimed vindicators of the workers and peasants. But it also showed that it was only fear, inadmissible in true revolutionaries, that stimulated their criminal instincts anytime their own survival might be in jeopardy, with total disregard for the life of their neighbor.
Fear, hatred and evil are the essential elements of the MLN-T's resentment against man and the society they propose to destroy. Even in so britishly sober an account, totally lacking in political commentary, as that given by Ambassador Jackson concerning his kidnapping by living with the subversives for eight months, the perversity and hatred, even ferocity, that arouse Tupamaro violence is nothing less than astonishing: “I have therefore concluded, not least with the help of the reminder which I have described, that ferocity, far more than precise ideology, was the main single and common component of my captors' assorted personalities. Where it had not existed, or had been only latent, it had to be learned or to emerge, for its host to live in consistency with himself” (Geoffrey Jackson, “Peoples Prison,” London, 1973. Faber and Faber, p. 108).
Another recurring attitude of the subversives, on being detained, was to insist upon all rights and prerogatives that the judicial order which they tried to destroy offers to citizens, thus seeking to protect the criminal and treacherous acts which they committed against that order, as well as having a whole group of specialized lawyers available, most of whom being closely linked to the organization. The list of lawyers defending those held for sedition, in fact, contains some 20 names, among whom figure members of the MLN (T), various others being directly or indirectly implicated in subversive activities, and some others, without any well-known records which would allow them to be included in these categories for one reason or another, gave their professional knowledge and experience to the service of the subversives. (In a footnote at the bottom of the page the names of 23 lawyers are listed, a list presented earlier in the body of this Report).
The Government strictly adhered to the legal norms, which forced it to repeatedly request the Parliament to approve a special law to safeguard public order, in order to counteract the inefficacy of the judicial methods which, with pristine legal innocence, abetted terrorist activities, affording neither guarantees nor any security for the public peace, freedom and the rights of inhabitants.
In contrast to the exaggerated liberal and even lenient procedures of the regular
courts are the torturous demands of the so-called “tupamaro penal code,” which
establishes the death penalty and delegates to any subversive the authority
to carry it out.