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Missing people
Name Jorge Julio López
Age at time of disappearance 77 years old
Missing since September 18, 2006
Location La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina Flag of Argentina.svg
Height 170 cm
Hair Blond/grey-haired
Eyes Green
Clothes blue jogging and grey sweater

Jorge Julio López (born in Buenos Aires Province, Argentina, 1929) is an Argentine retired bricklayer, who was kidnapped during the National Reorganization Process, and disappeared again during the democratic government of President Néstor Kirchner after declaring in trial against Dirty War criminal Miguel Etchecolatz. [1]

López was kidnapped and taken to different clandestine detention centres during the dictatorship known as National Reorganization Process (Spanish: Proceso de Reorganización Nacional, 1976–1983). He was subject to torture and remained detained without formal charges or trial from October 21, 1976 until June 25, 1979.


Second disappearance

About thirty years after the end of the military government, the laws known as Due Obedience and Full Stop, which blocked investigations of crimes committed by members of the military and the police during the dictatorship, were repealed. Miguel Etchecolatz was the first defendant in a Dirty War-related trial.

During the first part of the National Reorganization Process, Etchecolatz was the Director of Investigations of the Buenos Aires Provincial Police, head of one of the clandestine detention centres, and the right hand of former General Ramón Camps. López was a key witness in his trial. His testimony involved 62 military and policemen, and thanks in part to this, Etchecolatz was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Lopez "disappeared just hours before he was slated to give his final testimony on the eve of the conviction of the former police investigator," on September 18, 2006, according to the story "Missing Witness Awakens Dark Past," by Marie Trigona of the Americas Program of the International Relations Center published on October 12, 2006.[2] He was last seen at his home in the city of La Plata, 40 km. south of Buenos Aires. The initial hypothesis, that assumed that López had suffered a traumatic shock when reliving his torture during the trial and had subsequently wandered off lost, was discarded. Another hypothesis, that he had gone voluntarily into hiding fearing retribution for his statement against Etchecolatz, was discredited as well.[3]

As of late 2009, three years, after his disappearance, López is yet to be found. The investigations commanded by both the national government and the Buenos Aires provincial government have not progressed significantly. [4][5]

Criticism of the investigation

Government officials have made repeated assurances of optimism regarding a quick reappearance, based on "substantial advances" in the investigation, though evidence of this progress has not been presented to the public. The apparent laziness of the investigators, added to this lack of visible progress, has led some to suspect that information is being withheld or even that there is state complicity in the disappearance.[6]

On January 8, 2007 National Deputy Nora Guinzburg presented a law project to gather a special bicameral commission destined to keep Congress informed on the development of the investigations related to López, as well as the ones regarding the kidnapping and later reappearance of Luis Gerez (also a former Dirty War victim). The project did not make any progress.

On February 15 Guinzburg put forth another project, requesting that the Executive reported information about the cases. This project did not prosper either. On February 27 Guinzburg insisted with her first project, but the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Alberto Ballestrini, denied the possibility, but allowed voting on the second project. It was rejected 118–47, with the opposition of the president's party faction, the Front for Victory, and the Federal Peronism.

The disappearance of the bricklayer sparked criticism on the witness protection procedures. After the disappearance, the government of Buenos Aires raised the reward for information on López to AR$200,000 (about US$66,000 at the time), and soon doubled the figure. Many television and radio warnings were broadcast, and pictures of López were posted in many places. There was a campaign using mobile phone text messages asking for collaboration on the search. Thousands of policemen were mobilized.


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