The Trial of Christian Von Wernich: An Overview

The first priest to be brought to trial for involvement with the operation of clandestine detention centers during the military junta of the late 1970s, Christian Von Wernich faces initial hearings July 5th in La Plata. [leer en español]

LA PLATA – Despite having been implicated in the testimonies of numerous victims of human rights abuses, Catholic priest Christian Von Wernich, now 68, has enjoyed the protection of Argentine amnesty laws for decades. With the Supreme Court’s recent nullification of two key laws, however, Von Wernich’s legal immunity appears to be rapidly disappearing.

Tomorrow’s opening hearings in La Plata are the result of a legal process that has stretched for some years already. The Federal Court of La Plata first called in 2003 for Von Wernich to provide testimony. Residing at the time under false identity in Chile, Von Wernich refused to testify and eventually was placed at the disposal of Federal Judge Arnaldo Corazza. Following the receipt of a formal petition by La Plata’s Permanent Assembly for Human Rights (APDH), Corazza denied Von Wernich’s request for legal immunity, citing charges for crimes against humanity filed by Public Prosecutor Felix Crous as grounds for his detainment.

In the months that followed, two separate actions were filed against Von Wernich, first in October and then again in December. After referring the case to the Federal Court of Appeals, Corraza decided to elevate it to trial.

Key Facts for the Upcoming Trial:

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La Asamblea Permanente por los Derechos Humanos La Plata es una organización no gubernamental cuyos objetivos son: Defender los Derechos Humanos en su acepción más amplia, contribuir a su enseñanza y a su difusión, dotar a esta temática de sólidos fundamentos jurídicos y académicos con una clara visión de futuro mediante la investigación y la docencia. Llevar adelante los reclamos de Memoria, Verdad y Justicia para nuestro pueblo. Llevar adelante el Juicio por la verdad, iniciado junto a otros organismos y particulares en 1998 ante la Cámara Federal de La Plata y a las causas penales derivadas del Juicio por la Verdad.

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