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2 arrested in 1972 Argentine massacre

February 10, 2008|From the Associated Press

BUENOS AIRES — Federal police arrested two retired military officers Saturday in connection with the massacre of 16 leftist guerrillas in 1972 on a military base in the Patagonian city of Trelew.

According to the state news agency Telam, the detainees are Paccagnini Ruben, 81, who captained a ship and headed the military base Almirante Zar Trelew, and Emilio Del Real, 73, a frigate captain who is accused of being present at the Aug. 22, 1972, shooting of the guerrillas.

They face charges of torture, homicide, attempted homicide and illegal detentions.

Police and Federal Judge Hugo Sastre, who is handling the case, could not be reached for comment.

In August 1972, 22 members of guerrilla groups escaped from prison in the city of Rawson and took over the airport in nearby Trelew, about 700 miles southwest of Buenos Aires.

Military forces guarding the airport managed to arrest 19, but three escaped by plane to Chile.

The 19 guerrillas were transferred to the base Almirante Zar, where they were machine-gunned in their cells. Alberto Camps, Mary Berger and Ricardo Haidar survived the attack and reported the crime -- only to disappear in the late 1970s during the military dictatorship that lasted from 1976 to 1983.

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