Former army chief that served during the last part of the Cristina Kirchner administration, César Milani was detained today in La Rioja Province after testifying in court on his involvement in three abductions that took place during the last dictatorship, in 1976 and 1977. The cases centered around the kidnappings of Pedro Adán Olivera, his son Ramón Alfredo Olivera, and of Verónica Matta. At the time, Milani was a Second Lieutenant in La Rioja’s 141st battalion of engineers. He is facing formal charges of crimes against humanity, which are not restricted by any statute of limitations in domestic courts.
According to his testimony in the case, Pedro Olivera was abducted from his home by members of the military for two days, during which he remained “disappeared,” and claims to have been tortured. As a result, he suffered injuries that left half his body paralyzed. The military then released him in front of his house but took his son, who underwent his same fate for 10 days. It was Pedro’s son Ramón Olivera who identified Milani as the military officer who raided his house.
Verónica Matta was also abducted during the last dictatorship. She testified identifying Milani as the man who led the operation behind her kidnapping, which took place on July 16, 1976.
Milani denied all accusations and his attorney filed a request to close down the investigation. The request was denied, and Prosecutor Virginia Miguel Carmona told press the case they have against him is “solid.”
“We are talking about three cases of illegitimate deprivation of freedom tied to Milani. The accusations against him are solid. A victim had mentioned him in this case in 1984…From our point of view, this case should see trial. We have a great deal of evidence against him,” she said.
The former Army Chief is also accused of being involved in the case of a military recruit, Alberto Agapito Ledo, who was disappeared in Tucumán Province on June 17, 1976.
Whenever a soldier was forcibly disappeared, the army tended to falsify the victim’s paperwork to cover their own backs, often using the euphemistic lie that the disappeared person or persons were “deserters” and went missing without a trace. In Ledo’s case, the man who declared him a “deserter” in signing his paperwork was a certain Second Lieutenant Milani.
To top it all off, Milani also has an open investigation into embezzlement charges.
Despite all these charges, Milani appeared to have received amnesty from high ranking member of the Kirchner administration, some of whom repeatedly defended him during his tenure as Army Chief.
In December 2013, Hebe de Bonafini, leader of the more radical faction of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, an organization that became an emblem of human rights advocacy for their work during the coup — sat down for a notably convivial interview with Milani, who rejected accusations of abusing power while taking advantage of the positive PR opportunity being presented to him.
Milani resigned from his post in June 2015 due to “strictly personal reasons.” Since then, he managed to stay out of the headlines unless an update to one of his multiple court cases happened to take place. Oh right, and when he decided to set up a hot dog franchise with former Domestic Trade Secretary, Guillermo Moreno. That made headlines too.