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Argentine princess's dad has dictatorship history

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 3, 2013 at 10:18 pm •  Published: February 3, 2013

Zorreguieta wrote an open "letter to the people of the Netherlands" that was published in Argentina's La Nacion newspaper, saying he wouldn't go to his daughter's wedding because he wanted to avoid "controversies" that could hurt her future.

In the letter, he also listed 10 "truths" about his role in the dictatorship, claiming that "in the Agriculture Ministry there was no knowledge of the repression" and that "only after 1984, did the excesses committed during the repression become known."

These claims were immediately challenged in Argentina. In the left-leaning newspaper Pagina12, journalist Miguel Bonasso wrote a blistering, point-by-point response, noting that Argentina's human rights violations were known around the world while Zorreguieta served the junta. Bonasso also wrote that the Agriculture Ministry's workers had been seized by soldiers in tanks, and that when Argentina hosted the 1978 World Cup in a stadium just down the street from a clandestine terror center, members of the Dutch team met publicly with the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo to support their effort to find detainees.

Still, as his daughter prepares to be sworn in as queen, Zorreguieta has made no apologies for his past, said Baud, who directs the Centre for Latin American Research and Documentation in Amsterdam.

"What's remarkable is that since that moment, 12 years have passed, he's never made any excuse or any statement to the victims. He's sticking to his story. He has not in any way shown any remorse or second thoughts or whatever," Baud said.

"Perhaps his ambition, the fact that he reached a high position, blinded him to what was happening around him. Perhaps that's still the case," Baud added.

Relatives of those killed by the junta still hope to see Zorreguieta forced to answer questions under oath.

"He should tell what he knows, apologize. I don't know if he'll do that, but it's time," said Alejandra Slutzky in a recent interview on Dutch television. Slutzky's family blames Zorreguieta for the 1977 torture death of her father, Dr. Samuel Slutzky.

Previous efforts to get Zorreguieta indicted in Holland failed when an appellate court ruled in 2002 that the Netherlands had no jurisdiction over crimes against humanity committed in Argentina decades earlier. But the lawyers say that changed in December 2010 when an international treaty on forced disappearances went into effect and when Holland amended its international crimes law in 2011, giving prosecutors jurisdiction when suspects are on Dutch soil.

Dutch lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld, who represents Slutzky's family and other Argentine survivors, argues that Zorreguieta would be continuing to commit the crime of covering up a forced disappearance if he visits Holland and doesn't reveal what he knows.

"New evidence keeps coming to light that increases the plausibility that Zorreguieta was jointly responsible in forced disappearances," Zegveld said, while urging prosecutors to open a new investigation.

Zegveld said this evidence against Zorreguieta includes the case of Alberto Daniel Golberg, one of about 800 employees forced out of the ministry's National Institute for Agricultural Technology as the military took over. Golberg has said he was arrested and tortured, then visited in jail by the institute's human resources chief, who had him sign a severance letter.

That couldn't have happened without Zorreguieta's knowledge, Zegveld said.

Investigative Judge Daniel Rafecas has taken up the Argentine case and is evaluating the allegations of survivors of ousted institute workers who say top civilian officials were complicit in drawing up blacklists of employees who were fired or even killed. Rafecas was on holiday Friday, and his staff declined to comment.


Associated Press Writer Mike Corder in The Hague, Netherlands, contributed to this report.