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Luciano B. Menéndez

Menéndez (right, in officer's uniform) oversees III Army Corps training

Provisional Federal Interventor of Córdoba
In office
September 19 – September 20, 1975
Preceded by Raúl Lacabanne
Succeeded by Raúl Bercovich Rodríguez

Born June 19, 1927 (1927-06-19) (age 82)
San Martín, Buenos Aires
Political party none
Profession Military officer

Luciano Benjamín Menéndez (born June 19, 1927) is a former Argentine general.

Menéndez was born in the largely working-class Buenos Aires suburb of San Martín, in 1927. He enrolled in the National War College and was later transferred to Córdoba, where he was attached to the III Army Corps. The jurisdiction of the Third Army Corps comprises the provinces of Córdoba, Jujuy, Salta, Catamarca, La Rioja, San Juan, Mendoza, San Luis, Córdoba, Santiago del Estero and Tucumán. Menéndez supervised actions in the "anti-revolutionary war" that erupted from the late 1960s to the late 1970s in that area (particularly Tucumán Province.

He was briefly Federal Interventor (Receiver) of the important Province of Córdoba in 1975, and served as the Commander of the Third Army Corps from September 1975 until September 1979.

He was a leading advocate for war during the 1978 Beagle conflict, and was known for of his aggressive and vulgar discourse against Chileans: «Si nos dejan atacar a los chilotes, los corremos hasta la isla de Pascua, el brindis de fin de año lo hacemos en el Palacio La Moneda y después iremos a mear el champagne en el Pacífico»[1](Translation: «If they let us attack the Chileans, we'll chase them to Easter Island, we'll drink the New Year's Eve toast in the Palacio de La Moneda, and then we'll piss the champagne into the Pacific»).

Menéndez's nephew, Mario Benjamín Menéndez, was the Commander of the Argentine troops during the 1982 Falklands War, and was the islands' military governor during the brief occupation.

After the dictatorship ended in 1983, Menéndez (as a top officer) fell outside the purview of the Ley de Obediencia Debida ("Law of Due Obedience") and was accused of nearly 800 crimes. In 1988 he was indicted with 47 homicides, 76 instances of torture (4 of them followed by death) and 4 kidnappings of minors, but the Supreme Court voided most of the indictments as a result of the Ley de Punto Final ("Full Stop Law"). In 1990, days before his trial was to begin for the remaining accusations, President Carlos Menem pardoned him. In 1998 he assembled a fascist party called Nuevo Orden Republicano (Republican New Order).

Menéndez was involved in the forced disappearance of several Italian citizens, and was indicted in Spain, from where judge Baltasar Garzón asked the Argentine authorities for his arrest. In 1998 a case involving 30 summary executions and murders of political prisoners was reopened against Menéndez, who was detained for a few days and refused to give a statement; he was later set free again.

The laws that had stopped the prosecution of crimes committed during the dictatorship (passed during the first years of democracy) were repealed by Congress in 2006, and Menem's pardons were rescinded shortly afterwards. Menéndez was again brought before justice, this time accused of the kidnapping, torture and murder of four members of the Workers' Revolutionary Party. In the trial that ended on July 24, 2008, he was found guilty and sentenced to a life sentence, to be served in a regular prison (rather than in military facilities or at home, a benefit granted to several notorious criminals of the dictatorship due to being over 70). [2]

In August 2008, Menéndez, along with fellow general Antonio Domingo Bussi, was found guilty of the forced disappearance and murder of politician Guillermo Vargas Aignasse and sentenced to a further life sentence.[3]

According to the Human Rights NGO, "Project Disappeared," he personally supervised and directed torture and executions. He was responsible for the camp of "La Perla" (located in Córdoba), in which 2200 persons were killed. He was later indicted by Spanish Judge Baltazar Garzón, who issued an arrest warrant against him.[4]

Menéndez was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Tucumán Province Court of Appeals on August 28, 2008, on the charge of crimes against humanity.[5]

References

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