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Former Argentine officer in dictatorship-era human rights case found dead of gunshot wound

Former Argentine officer in dictatorship-era human rights case found dead of gunshot wound

A retired Argentine army officer, called to testify about the fate of twins born to a political prisoner, has been found dead of a gunshot in an apparent suicide, police said Tuesday.
The body of retired Lt. Col. Paul Alberto Navone was found Monday with a bullet wound to the head and a handgun near his side in a park near his home in a largely military neighborhood outside the central city of Cordoba, authorities said.
Police said evidence pointed to suicide, but some human rights activists expressed concern he might have been slain, based partly on the deaths or abductions of other witnesses in cases stemming from the 1976-1983 military dictatorship.
Federal judge Myriam Galizzi had summoned Navone for questioning next week about what happened to twins born in 1978 to a dissident held at a military hospital in the northeastern city of Parana.
The mother, Raquel Negro, remains missing and was presumably executed _ one of at least 13,000 suspected leftists who were killed or vanished in military custody during Argentina's "dirty war."
Human rights activists say more than 200 babies were born to political prisoners of the dictatorship. Most are believed to have been taken from their mothers and given for adoption, and 88 of them so far have been identified.
The government news agency Telam said the judge is investigating claims by a former intelligence agent that one of the twins, a boy, died, soon after Negro gave birth and that the other, a girl, was abandoned on the doorstep of an orphanage.
"Navone knew a great deal about the fate of children born in that hospital. He was the tip of the iceberg," activist, Guillermo Germano told local reporters.
Estela Carlotto, president of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo human rights group, told Argentina's Continental Radio she had doubts Navone killed himself and urged authorities to "investigate whether he had been eliminated."
A few other "dirty war" witnesses have died or been attacked.
Former Coast Guard officer Hector Febres was found dead of cyanide poisoning in his cell at a military brig near Buenos Aires last Dec. 10, four days before a court was to rule on charges he kidnapped and tortured four dissidents.
A former political prisoner, Jorge Julio Lopez, vanished in September 2006 shortly after his testimony about torture helped convict a former police chief.


Updated : 2021-03-07 17:26 GMT+08:00