San Francisco, California, October 20, 2020 – The Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA), Keker, Van Nest & Peters, and Markus/Moss PLLP, in collaboration with the Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS-Center of Legal and Social Studies), today brought suit against former Argentine naval officer Roberto Guillermo Bravo for his alleged role in the 1972 mass shooting of political prisoners at a military base in Trelew, Argentina.
The civil complaint was filed in the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on behalf of four of the victims’ families. Bravo left Argentina in 1973 as a military attaché to the Argentine Embassy in the United States. He remained in the U.S. after retiring from the Argentine military and currently resides in North Miami, Florida. He is a naturalized United States citizen and a successful businessman.
In the aftermath of the Trelew Massacre, the military regime attempted to cover up the atrocity and intimidate anyone who sought accountability for the events of that night, including the family members of the victims and their lawyers. The three survivors of the Massacre were subsequently either killed or forcibly disappeared. Family members of victims were terrorized by death squads. Some eventually fled Argentina, including two of the plaintiffs.
“My father survived the Trelew Massacre and wanted to dedicate his life to expose the truth of what happened, but he was murdered before he could see justice,” said plaintiff Raquel Camps. “I hope that the U.S. justice system can help us achieve his goal, get accountability, and finally close this painful chapter in Argentine history by ending 50 years of impunity for Bravo.”
It was not until 2012 – almost three decades after the country’s return to democracy – that there was finally a criminal trial for several of the perpetrators of the Trelew Massacre. While three of Bravo’s fellow officers have been convicted for their crimes, Bravo remains out of reach of Argentine authorities, who are currently seeking Bravo’s extradition to stand trial for his role in the Trelew Massacre after an unsuccessful attempt in 2010.
“The Trelew Massacre was a precursor to the horrors that would follow in the so-called Dirty War,” said CJA Senior Staff Attorney Claret Vargas. “Impunity emboldened the military and paved the way for the years of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances that continued until 1983. This suit provides the first opportunity in almost half a century to hold Bravo accountable.”
“We are proud to be part of an effort to give a voice to families whose loved ones have been silenced by Bravo and the Argentine military regime,” said Keker, Van Nest & Peters partner Ajay Krishnan. “We will continue to push forward until Bravo is held accountable before the law.”
“Those who would act as judge, jury and executioner of political prisoners should face accountability, and we welcome the opportunity to assist in this long-overdue effort to hold Bravo accountable,” said Margot Moss of Markus/Moss PLLC.
Sol Hourcade, lawyer and coordinator of the Memoria, Truth & Justice Department at CELS highlights the importance of this lawsuit because it shows that “despite the obstacles in bringing Bravo to court in Argentina, the families of the Trelew Massacre victims will not stop until obtaining justice”.
For more information on the case, including a link to the complaint, visit https://cja.org/what-we-do/litigation/camps-v-bravo/.
Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)
Centro por la Justicia y la Responsabilidad (CJA)
Keker, Van Nest y Peters
Markus / Moss PLLC
Photo: Emilser Pereira /ARCHIVO PROVINCIAL DE LA MEMORIA CHUBUT /COLECCIÓN DIARIO JORNADA