The Argentine Senate promoted Maj. Gen. César Milani, the commander in chief of the Armed Forces, to lieutenant general on December 18, 2013, despite allegations by victims and human rights groups that he had participated in serious human rights abuses during the military dictatorship, from 1976 to 1983.
The credible allegations of abuses implicating Milani cast a serious doubt on his ability to head the Armed Forces of Argentina, Human Rights Watch said. Instead of promoting Milani under these circumstances, the government should undertake thorough and impartial investigations into the alleged crimes and bring those responsible to justice.
According to court documents, Milani drafted a report on the “desertion” of a soldier in Tucumán province in 1976. The soldier was later forcibly disappeared. A provincial human rights commission report stated that the military routinely reported that “disappeared” soldiers had “deserted.” The commission report also includes the testimony of a man who accused Milani of participating in the search of his home in La Rioja province that led to the arrest and detention of his father, who was subsequently tortured.
Milani told the Center for Legal and Social Studies, a local human rights group, that he was unaware that a clandestine detention center existed in the military unit in which he worked at the time, even though several court cases established the existence of the detention center.
Milani admitted that he participated in transferring detainees from a “prison” to judicial authorities but said that he merely accompanied the police officers who were in charge of the transfer and were in direct contact with the detainees. However, existing evidence suggests that political detainees were held in the “prison” he mentioned, and it is widely known that the police officers at the time were generally subordinate to the military.
Milani has not been charged for any of these alleged crimes.