LATIN AMERICA

At age of 97, Plaza de Mayo grandma finally gets justice for lost daughter

An Argentinean court finds three men guilty for the disappearance of Patricia Roisinblit during the so-called “Dirty War”

Rosa Roisinblit and her grandchildren, Mariana and Guillermo, leave the courthouse.
Rosa Roisinblit and her grandchildren, Mariana and Guillermo, leave the courthouse.Télam

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It marks the end of impunity. At 97 years old, Rosa Tarlovsky de Roisinblit, the vice-president of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, heard an Argentinean court sentence three men for the kidnapping and forced disappearance of her daughter, Patricia Roisinblit. Patricia was eight months pregnant when she was taken from her house in front of her 15-month-old daughter, Mariana, on October 6, 1978. Her partner, José Pérez Rojo, had met the same fate hours before. Her family never saw them again. The baby was brought up by her grandparents after the military handed her over to Pérez’s family.

Patricia was eight months pregnant when she was taken from her house in front of her 15-month-old daughter

Thirty-eight years later, a federal court has sentenced Omar Graffigna, former Air Force chief and member of Argentina’s second military junta, and Luis Tomás Trillo, ex-director of the Buenos Aires Regional Intelligence (R.I.B.A.) office, for unlawful imprisonment and torture practices that took place at the old RIBA building, a secret prison used under the dictatorship and “Dirty War” (1976-1983).

Roisinblit, granddaughter and daughter of the first Jews who arrived in Argentina at the end of the 19th century, and her grandchildren, Mariana and Guillermo, were together in the courtroom when the sentence was read. Guillermo was born while his mother was in captivity and he did not discover his real identity until 2000. His guardian, former intelligence officer Francisco Gómez, was also sentenced to 12 years in prison on Thursday.

Guillermo was born while his mother was in captivity and he did not discover his real identity until 2000

The court’s decision is the first sentence for the 90-year-old Graffigna, who was was acquitted at the 1985 military junta trial and since then has evaded justice. This time the court found him guilty of crimes against humanity for his activities at the RIBA building, a huge mansion of 800 square meters located on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. According to details revealed during the trial, José Pérez Rojo and Patricia Roisinblit were held at the RIBA building before Roisinblit was sent to the maternity ward of the Naval Mechanics School in Buenos Aires, then the largest clandestine detention center in the country.

In 2003, Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón requested Graffigna’s extradition but to no success. In 2013, the ex-military officer was arrested after Mariana Pérez Roisinblit formally accused him of her parents’ disappearance. On April 27, 2000 she met her brother Guillermo for the first time to tell him that he was the son of desaparecidos. DNA tests confirmed her message. Guillermo has taken his biological parents’ last names, Pérez Rosinblit.

English version by Dyane Jean François.

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