“I am an exceptional prisoner. » With these words, 69-year-old Mario Alfredo Sandoval spoke on Wednesday, September 14, in Buenos Aires during the opening of his trial for the kidnapping and torture of student and Peronist activist Hernan Abriata on October 30, 1976. The Argentine dictatorship (1976-1983 d.).
The former Franco-Argentine policeman is accused of being “accomplice to the crime of unlawful imprisonment followed by torture” against Hernán Abriata, who disappeared, like 5,000 other opponents, from the School of Marine Mechanics, the sinister ESMA, where he was detained.
Settling in France when democracy returned in 1985, Mr. Sandoval was granted French citizenship twelve years later. During the court hearing, which was held both in person and via video conference, he introduced himself as “French and Argentinian, but Argentinian by obligation”. Mario Sandoval was extradited from his home in Nogent-sur-Marne on December 15, 2019, after an almost eight-year legal marathon that ended with a decree signed in 2018 by then-Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Minister of Justice Nicole Beloube and confirmed by the State advice on December 11, 2019
Mario Sandoval, who has since been remanded in custody, appeared in Federal Court No. 5 properly masked, wearing black gloves and wearing a dark blue jacket with a blue-white-red patch sewn onto the shoulder. “He looked like he was in a French policeman’s uniform, noted Monica Dittmar, 70, Hernan Abriata’s widow, present in the courtroom. It was a provocation, he was intimidating, he’s a really scary guy. »
Morgue of the accused
As soon as Judge Fernando Canero gives him the floor, the man begins a long lesson in international law, believing his rights have been violated. “Am I a human being without human rights, that is, a sub-human? », he asks. He rocks “not to be the Inspector or Commissioner Sandoval who went to the Abriata home” the night of October 30, 1976. And he considers himself a victim of homonymy, even if he admits for the first time that he was indeed employed by the General Directorate of Federal Security (SSF), an agency of the Argentine Federal Police.
In the courtroom – where Carlos Loza, 69, who was detained in ESMA at the same time as the young Abriata – was also present, the arrogance with which Mario Sandoval answered Judge Canero provoked outraged reactions, forcing the magistrate to call the public to order. When asked what his education was, Mario Sandoval answered: “I can read and write. » “But did you study? », the judge insists. “Doctor, I can read and write. » Mr. Canero is getting impatient: “Besides, I’m asking you if you’ve studied. » Mario Sandoval does not disassemble: “Enough to know how to read and write. »
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