letter from Gerardo Ibáñez

October 2012

Dear all, we have repeatedly talked about the pressures that judges in Argentina receive from the Government, but you will agree with me that sometimes it is difficult to explain this to the Dutch because it is necessary to find specific examples and then relate them to these trials for alleged violations of human rights. However, yesterday something very serious happened in Argentina and it is a superb example for Dr. KNOOPS to make this reality known to the authorities of the Netherlands.
For those who do not know, approximately 3 years ago the so-called MEDIA LAW was enacted in Argentina. This law, under the guise of being a law guaranteeing amplitude in the media and the assurance of diversity of opinions, had the main and almost sole purpose of destroying the CLARÍN multimedia group (TN Todo Noticias channel, Channel 13, Diario Clarín, which is the newspaper with the largest circulation in Argentina, Radio Mitre etc.). That law has in its article 161 a rule requiring economic groups that hold ownership of more than a certain quantity of media outlets to sell them, i.e., to divest. This was intended to dismantle one of the few remaining media where ideas or images that are adverse to the interests of the Government of Cristina KIRCHNER are published, since the rest has been bought by businessmen who are friends of power or figureheads of officials, who receive and live on the millions that the Government spends on official advertising. To give you an example, the governing-party newspaper PÁGINA 12, which has a circulation of 5% of what CLARÍN sells, has a lot more official advertising than the latter. For example, during the September 13th “cacerolazo” (demonstration where saucepans are banged as a sign of protest), where thousands and thousands of people went out spontaneously in all cities to protest against the outrageous acts of this Government, the only TV channel that aired these events was TN while the others were running fashion shows, sports, police news, etc.
This art. 161 gave a year to carry out that divestment. Well, as in Argentina it is the judges (i.e. the members of the judiciary) that possess, the control of the constitutionality of laws, the Clarín group filed a judicial claim at the time requesting that article 161 be declared unconstitutional since it affected acquired rights and therefore clearly violated the property right enshrined in our national Constitution in article 17 which says:

Art. 17.- Property may not be violated, and no inhabitant of the Nation can be deprived of it except by virtue of a sentence based on law. Expropriation for reasons of public interest must be authorized by law and previously compensated. Only Congress levies the taxes mentioned in article 4. No personal service can be requested except by virtue of a law or sentence based on law. Every author or inventor is the exclusive owner of his work, invention, or discovery for the term granted by law. The confiscation of property is hereby abolished forever from the Argentine Criminal Code. No armed body may make requisitions nor demand assistance of any kind.

The Supreme Court of the Nation itself issued a precautionary measure until the merit of the case was resolved, i.e. the question of unconstitutionality argued by the Clarín group, which consisted in the suspension on legal limits for this group of the effects of art. 161, until December 7, 2012. President Cristina KIRCHNER is clearly threatening almost daily on nationwide broadcasts that on December 8, 2012 everything will change, and even in transmissions of local soccer matches, there is abundant publicity on this topic (it is something very similar to what CHAVEZ has already done in Venezuela)
Now then, the Court which is responsible for ruling on this issue from December 8th, does not have a judge due to resignation. So through a legal mechanism, the Supreme Court summoned a retired judge of enormous prestige, Dr. TETTAMANTI, and appointed him to this Court. This situation exasperated the Government, because it seeks at all costs to place in that post a judge that guarantees the destruction of the Clarín group, and it attempted to appoint Dr. GAGLIARDI, a candidate who had participated in the selection contest for judges, and who was moved from 16th place to 6th place, and yet it was unable to impose her. This supposed contestant is now an official of the Government and has made public statements against the Clarín group; therefore her bias is eloquent.

So, with Dr. TETTAMANTI remaining in this post, a huge and systematic media pressure was carried out against this judge, especially by no other than the Minister of Justice and Human Rights of the Nation, Dr. Julio ALAK. Here comes what is important because yesterday, with great surprise, we learned that Dr. TETTAMANTI announced his resignation, on the striking grounds that this had “generated in me moral violence and a degree of disquiet, not only personally but regarding my family, that causes me a state of mind that is not appropriate for continuing in the delicate task of administering justice as I have been doing for 31 years.”

A few hours later it was known, with nobody denying it, what the family pressure had been: the threat that judge TETTAMANTI’s brother, a retired Admiral from the Argentine Navy, who was never mentioned nor reported in the cases of human rights would be affected to them, all of which led to the ill-fated judge’s will being overwhelmed.

This situation shows three very clear things that should be exploited by Dr. KNOOPS, so that the authorities of the Netherlands may see:
1) That in Argentina, the Government exercises pressure on judges, removing them, threatening them and even threatening them that if they do or not do something, they can, if they so decide, order another judge to involve a family member in a criminal case;
2) That in this particular case I have mentioned, the judge that the Government thought of ordering to involve innocent Admiral TETTAMANTI (brother of the judge under pressure), could be no other than Dr. TORRES in charge of the ESMA case, therefore it is demonstrated that he is a judge willing to meet these demands, and this circumstance was perfectly known to judge TETTAMANTI, for which reason he made this unfortunate decision.
3) How the government handles at its leisure this kind of process, in which it matters little whether the accused persons are guilty or not, but if it is politically convenient to involve them or not.

Please find below the link to open the article published in the newspaper LA NACIÓN, with the article by the prestigious lawyer and journalist Dr. Adrián VENTURA, saying what I have just mentioned. But the most important part of the article is where he says

In addition, yesterday LA NACION revealed that Tettamanti also suffered surreptitious pressures; he would have been threatened with the possibility that his brother, Vice Admiral (R) Rodolfo Oscar Tettamanti – a former head of Marine Corps who retired from the force after the carapintada uprising of Mohamed Seineldín in 1988 – would be prosecuted. This officer was never involved in any case, but judicial sources pointed out that judge Tettamanti would have received a phone call on Saturday evening, in which he was warned of that possibility.
Judges, when they feel pressure, at the most excuse themselves from intervening in a case or resign without expressing the cause. There are not many cases in judicial history where a judge accuses a minister of “moral violence”. “The attitude that I adopt is due to the debate that was generated within the Council of Magistrates and, then with the intervention of the Minister of Justice, around my designation,” Tettamanti wrote.


Dr. Gerardo Ibáñez