EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF THE STATE TERRORISM CASE OF EDUARDO SAIEGH
THE CASE OF EDUARDO SAIEGH, VICTIM OF “STATE TERRORISM” AT THE HANDS OF THE MILITARY DICTATORSHIP ARGENTINA
VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS BY “STATE TERRORISM” DURING THE ARGENTINE MILITARY DICTATORSHIP
Executive Summary as of October, 2007 Eduardo Saiegh, a citizen of Argentina, was kidnapped and “disappeared” on October 31, 1980. The government agents objective in kidnapping and torturing him was, in the words of the Argentine Secretary of Human Rights “extortion and the forced liquidation of his bank, Banco Latinoamericano”. suffered by arch. Eduardo Saiegh was one of three Jews who owned banks that were subjected t this treatment; he alone emerged alive from the secret prison. Eduardo Saiegh has waged an ongoing legal battle for more than 27 years, trying to get back the assets taken away from him, some of which still remain under the control of the Government of Argentina’s Central Bank (BCRA). Although officials of the government have repeatedly decided that that Saiegh should be compensated and the general terms of settlement have been agreed upon, the Minister of Economy repeatedly failed to respond to a judges order that he either send the settlement decree to the President for signature, or sign the decree himself.
Eduardo Saiegh recently requested the assistance of Rabbi Morton M. Rosenthal, now retired from his position as the Director of Latin American Affairs of the Anti-Defamation League. Rabbi Rosenthal played a major role in Argentina during the period of military dictatorship, securing the release of prisoners and “disappeared” and combating anti-Semitism in that country. Rabbi Rosenthal, citing the “Global Anti-Semitism Review Act”, adopted by the House of Representatives in 2004, has secured the cooperation of The Special Envoy to Monitor & Combat Anti-Semitism whose office was created under that law. He has also secured the cooperation of others in the Department of State and the House of Representatives.
The US Ambassador to Argentina and members of his staff have urged key Argentine government officials with whom they discussed the case to end the injustice and sign off on the settlement. The period immediately after the Argentine elections, scheduled for October 28 and the inauguration of the new President on December 10 is the optimal time frame in which this case can be settled, because the political cost would be minimal.
The following is a brief summary of the facts, in the voice of Eduardo Saiegh
On October 31, 1980, I was violently kidnapped by a paramilitary police commission. I was imprisoned for seven days without any intervention of a Judge, and in line with a total impunity common at that time, I was savagely tortured to confess criminal offences I had never committed in the Banco Latinoamericano, of which I was the owner. Their aim was to dispossess me of my Bank. To achieve this, they forged an anonymous accusation at the Central Bank of the Argentine Republic (BCRA) that was sent over to the political authorities of the Federal Police, so they would savagely act in my kidnapping. At the beginning, I was lodged in a cell in the Headquarters of the Banco de la Nación Argentina (located at Bmé Mitre and Reconquista) , then in some kind of cell-caves of the Police Central Department and I endured long torture sessions in a place unknown to me. The purpose of the tortures was to intimidate me and make me vulnerable to extortion. They wanted to break me physically, in spirits and economically. I was released on November 7, after having negotiated my own life with my captors due to a casual situation in life.
At the time, we had three potential buyers for the my bank, Banco Latinoamericano (BLA), one of which was Price Waterhouse International. However, BCRA, the Argentine Government’s Central Bank, threatened to kill all the members of the Board of BLA if we did not agree to sign the self-liquidation of the Bank. That is how my bank was taken from me under BCRA resolution #15/81.
BCRA still has control of BLA and has been unable, despite continuing efforts for over 25 years, to liquidate my bank and force it into bankruptcy.
For more than 25 years, my attorneys have vainly fought for Justice in Argentina. I have lived and keep on living in the most absurd situation of being denied justice and receiving no compensation for the assets taken from me, my illegal arrest and torture, and other violations of my human rights. , On the other hand, judges twice declared as “guilty” the man responsible for what happened to me -- Alejandro Reynal. In 1991 he was declared guilty and sentenced by Justice Martin Irurzun. In 1999, Justice Gabriel Cavallo convicted him of extortion in first degree and ordered his imprisonment. Justice Cavallo then released him citing the theory of Human Rights!!! after he paid 1 million US$ as bail.
The Attorney General of the Treasury) decided in January, 2005 that my case should be settled by having the Minister of Finance send a decree to the President for his signature, or sign the decree himself. His decision is attached.
During the past 22 months, the Minister of Finance has twice refused to respond to a judges demand that he do that or explain his refusal to act in accord with the law. The judge filed a third demand on October 29.
I am requesting that my case be carefully considered within this historical, political and legal context. At age 70, 27 years after my illegal abduction, I am still seeking justice in Argentina, reparations for the violation of my human rights. I expect and request President Kirchner to apply Act No. 23.928 and Decree No. 2140/91.
B- On the jurisdiction and necessity for the President of Argentina to get involved and solve this conflict.
The Motion of Appeal lodged by this Party has been in the Presidential area since 1995 –i.e more than 10 years have passed (PRESIDENCY No.190.650-0/95) for Mr. President to study and analyze. In view of the State’s responsibility, legally, Mr. President’s personal intervention is required to grant me a reparative mechanism. (Section 32°, paragraph g.3 of Decree # 2140 /91,) Since in my case I answer to all the requirements, including the third hypothesis which points out that the final decision be adopted by the President, and in addition under the terms of Art. 17 of the National Constitution Mr. President may impose and grant the requirements of compensation and restore the assets that were illegally taken away based on the guarantee frame the President of our Nation has by his condition of “Supreme Chief of the Nation, Governmental Chief and politically responsible of the general administration of the country.” (Art. 99, paragraph 1, National Constitution )
In this sense, I have requested this petition be treated urgently. The longer the time to be repaired, the deeper the damage and the moral pain.
The State cannot continue “victimizing the victim". The fact that a material reparation is possible is an additional point to take action. What is impossible to return is life, if a citizen dies or is missing.
In these 20 years I have been claiming for justice, I have requested from the Executive power to apply resolution 90.650/95 which would put an end to my case of violation of basic Human Rights- a subject which the President has mentioned and committed himself politically.
My case – the kidnapping, violation of rights, and illegal, circumstances which preceded and followed it – has gone public, and l have documented, as it is the Self-liquidation request, and my presentation on March 10, 2003 , to the President of Argentina, as is a presentation ready to be sent to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights of the American State Organization.
C- Juridical Basis for a Reparation for my Violated Human Rights.
The Permanent Legal Service from the Ministry of Economy , as well as the National Treasury Solicitors, have emphatically established that I am absolutely right in my claims and they determined that the mentioned Resolution BCRA N 15/81 is null, absolutely null; and consequently, illegitimate and has to be cancelled.
On October 30, 1986, the Permanent Legal Service of the Ministry of Economy, in accordance with Resolution N 50.304 of the General Direction of Legal Affairs declared said resolution null.
“...The elements analyzed in the preceding chapters reveal that Resolution N. 15/81 of the Central Bank of the Argentine Republic shows that there is a deficiency in the formal nature as well as in other aspects of the procedures previous to its pronouncement since there is absence of accurate fundaments. The administrative action is apparently the result of an excess of power from the part of the signer, and it is injurious to the principles of equality and equity before the Law and it arbitrarily caused a significant damage to the affected banking institution and its shareholders. For all these reasons, this juridical service considers that the decision taken is illegitimate and should be disaffected.”
Likewise, the Solicitors of the National Treasury on March 29, 1990, declared in a Decree they issued (N 85/90) that the resolution of the BCRA’s resolution n.157/ 81 was illegitimate
“VI. In view of the reasons expressed, we may well conclude that Resolution BCRA 15/81 is illegitimate and the Central Bank should revoke its decision (Section 14, Act No. 19.549- By this Resolution the Banco Latinoamericano S.A was no longer authorized to operate and its liquidation was determined - As a consequence of the due abrogation, it should act so that everything be as it was before the annulled resolution.
However, this governmental Attorney Department is aware of the fact that since some time has elapsed since Resolution BCRA n. 15/81 was dictated (Jan.16, 1981) a legal solution would be impossible to materialize. Therefore, there should be an arbitrage with the interested party to agree on the terms for a material reparation of the damages caused by the illegitimate actions of the BCRA. “
Furthermore: the present General Direction of Juridical Affairs of the Ministry of Economy ratified, in Resolution Nº149.190 dated May 12, 2003, the conclusions arrived at by the Juridical Permanent Service of the Ministry and the Treasury’s Solicitors, in the terms included by Section 32, paragraph a), point 1) of Decree N 2140/91, which refers to transactions*
“The basic question which this proposal of a transaction is based on was duly analyzed by the Juridical Service through the Statement issued by the Central Bank of Argentina– D.G.A. n.50.304- (see note attached) by which the decree which forbade the Banco Latinoamericano S.A. to operate was declared illegal, and had to be annulled. Furthermore, the National Treasure Attorneys issued statement n. 85/90, which you will also find attached, which is in agreement with the General Directors Statement
D- The Intervention of the DAIA
The active participation and involvement of the DAIA (Delegation of Israeli Argentine Associations), supports my claims for my violated Human Rights, as can be seen in the report written in 1999 by the Center of Social Studies at the DAIA, on the “Situation of the Jewish people detained –missing during the genocide perpetrated in Argentina”. On the physical pains, the kidnapping and tortures I suffered , on the extortion to deprive me of my assets. And even if this last issue responds to a material aspect, we all have the right to be protected by Human Rights in relation with properties.
On March 27, 2003, the then President of Argentina, Dr. Eduardo Duhalde, granted me an appointment to which I attended with people from the DAIA. The by the President of Argentina committed himself to apply for Justice in my particular case, by means of an agreement of transaction that would repair the damages I had suffered.
The DAIA shows permanent concern and formal involvement, and intervenes in many instances, as it is the case of the presentations submitted to Judge Mr Juez Baltasar Garzón, who supported the under signer’s position favorably. They also had to do with “SUMMARY 19/97”, presented to the Central Instruction Court N 5, National Audience Chamber, located in Madrid, Spain, with a resolution dated November 2, 1999, in answer to the presentation made by the DAIA, and denouncing the special cruelty towards the members of the Jewish community and the presence of State terrorism.
“ 4* As regards the economic aspect, victims of Jewish origin are a special aim of depredation by part of the military people, who illegally take away their belongings after they deprive them of their liberty, or they extort those whom their money would go to. Many Jewish people have been kidnapped and forced to self-liquidate, and their money passed on to public officials connected with the military dictators. In the case of Eduardo Saiegh, he was taken by force on October 31, 1980, kept imprisoned for a week, along which he was tortured to confess presumable criminal offenses that would justify the liquidation of the Banco Latinoamericano, in whose Board of Directors he was involved. Once he was set free, the Board was forced to ask for a “voluntary” self- liquidation of the Bank, but keeping as a guarantee all Saiegh’s belongings and money.
“The data given as examples clearly show the violent nature of the actions against the Jewish community in Argentina during the Military Dictatorship had been pre-conceived and institutionalized as one more element in the ideological aims of the National Reorganization Process, and that the people of Jewish ethnic origin received the most cruel of treatments, of tortures and elimination of people.”
- The need of an intervention of the Human Resources Department depending of the Ministry of Justice
On October 25, 2004 these presents were submitted to the Highest State Body in Human Resources Matters, the Secretary of Human Resources who said as a conclusion that there is no doubt about the State’s responsibility regarding both the deprivation as well as repair thereof.
“Consequently, I consider the facts denounced by Arch. Eduardo Saiegh hereunder fully match with the methods and operations implemented by the task groups of the last military dictatorship, both as regards the illicit appropriation of private property and the pursuance of profit during the illegal repression, as well as the discriminatory element, characteristic of the State Terrorism regarding the Jewish Community”.
F. About the necessary intervention of the President of Argentina.
Consequently and in virtue of all the antecedents herein mentioned along 25 years, it is that I request according to the administrative regulations the necessary intervention of the Executive Power in the person of the President of Argentina, for him to grant an urgent favorable treatment to my claim for a repair justice, within the terms of Section 32 paragraph g.3 of Decree N 2440/91, which sets forth the faculties of the Argentine President to adopt a definite decision by means of the Decree he believes is best to issue, since going any further with these matters, aggravates the damage already undertaken by the State itself compromising the maximum authorities, and for this reason we request the Treasury Attorney General intervention.
G Intervention of the Treasury Attorney General.
In this juncture we requested from the Ministry of Economy the submission of these matters to the Treasury Attorney General to decide about this party’s request asking for the President’s intervention, since all legal stages were over and only the political decision on item F hereunder was still pending.
On January 6, 2005 the Attorney General by Legal Opinion No. 009/05 expressing as his own words the opinion of the Human Resources Department stating that this case stands for a case of State Terrorism, and therefore a stern situation of Human Rights, concluded that this Case should be submitted to the Executive Power for the latter to solve about the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Economy and Production to proceed in said sense
H A request for submission to the Executive Power is hereby repeated
On February 15, 2005 this request was filed before the Ministry of Economy and Production, now supported by the Attorney General’s Opinion about sending these presents to the President for the final decision of this conflict and also as the latest juncture before filing a complaint based on the grounds of discrimination and denial of Justice before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) based in all the above said.
Notwithstanding the Attorney General’s Recommendations, former Ministry of Economy Lavagna, in a disguised administrative subterfuge sent this file to the Central Bank. After one year of hard work we could finally accomplish that this file were sent back to the scope of the Ministry of Economy where just like we did with Lavagna we requested the submission to the Executive Power, complying with all legal opinions and antecedents, and we have been requesting a hearing on urgent basis repeatedly since July 17, 2006 by means of a note entitled “on the 100th anniversary of the Dreyfus case”, but so far we have not received any answer despite our repeated requests.