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Police Detain Priest Accused of Torture

August 09, 2003|From Times Wire Reports

An Argentine priest accused of committing human-rights abuses while serving as a police force chaplain under Argentina's military regime was arrested after refusing to testify in court.

The Rev. Christian von Wernich, a Roman Catholic priest accused of aiding the torture of opposition figures during a 1976-1983 dictatorship, was detained by police in Buenos Aires this week.

His detention renews controversy over the role of the Roman Catholic Church during Argentina's "Dirty War" against leftists in the 1970s, which left 30,000 dead or missing.

Current Argentine amnesty laws exempt members of the country's former military regime from prosecution, but Argentine President Nestor Kirchner recently signed an order allowing them to be tried abroad.

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