- Argentina - justice - political prisoners - torture
AFP - Alfredo Astiz, known as the "Blond Angel of Death" for a series of alleged murders during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship, was ordered released from detention Thursday, the president said.
"This measure shames Argentina and all of humanity," an outraged President Cristina Kirchner said after a court ordered Astiz be released on grounds he had been detained for two years without being formally charged.
"It's a perversion of the system, because he should be put on trial," she said.
Astiz, 57, is still in detention, a court official said, pending a possible appeal by the government or a court-ordered delay to set conditions for his release, since he is considered a flight risk.
"I don't think I'm breaking the law when I say that the justice system will revoke (the release order) for the sake of Argentina's dignity," Kirchner said at the Memory Museum dedicated to the victims of the dictatorship, located inside the very premises of the former Navy Mechanics School.
Astiz and the other suspects worked at Buenos Aires' Navy Mechanics School, an infamous center for torture and abuse during the dictatorship, where some 5,000 people were taken and only a few hundred survived.
A former Navy captain, Astiz and other former military officers are scheduled for a hearing to be formally charged in the disappearance of two French nuns and scores of political dissidents during the dictatorship's fight against leftist insurgents.
Astiz has been sentenced to life in prison in Italy, in 2007, and France, in 1990, for the murder of three Italians and two French nuns respectively.
In addition to Astiz, the court also ordered the release of Jorge Acosta, alias "The Tiger," another jailer, torturer and death squad leader singled out by survivors of the dictatorship.
"We'll see if the detainees get their freedom, because a judge yet has to set the terms of their release, and the decision can be appealed," said a lawyer for one of the victims.
"We repudiate the decision," said Graciela Rosenblum, whose relative was a victim of the war on leftists. "We're talking of things that happened more than 30 years ago and that have yet to be tried and convicted."