REPORT Nº 40/02*
ADMISSIBILITY
PETITION 12.167
ARGUELLES ET AL
ARGENTINA
October 9, 2002
I.

SUMMARY

1. The present report addresses the admissibility of petition 12.167. The petition was opened
by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter “Inter-American
Commission, “Commission” or “IACHR”) pursuant to the receipt of a series of petitions filed
between June 5 and October 28, 1998, on behalf of 21 individuals: Hugo Oscar Arguëlles,
Miguel Angel Maluf, Miguel Ramón Taranto, Ambrosio Marcial, Miguel Oscar Cardozo, Julio
Cesar Allendes, Luis José López Mattheus, Enrique Jesús Aracena, Felix Oscar Morón, Ricardo
Omar Candurra, Carlos Julio Arancibia, José Eduardo Di Rosa, Enrique Luján Pontecorvo, Aníbal
Ramón Machín, Carlos Alberto Galluzzi, Gerardo Feliz Giordano, Nicolás Tomasek, José Arnaldo
Mercau, Alberto Jorge Pérez, Horacio Eugenio Oscar Muñoz and Juan Italo Obolo. On the basis
of the close identity of the allegations of fact and law presented, the respective petitions were
accumulated into one file, numbered 12.167 (hereinafter “the petition”). The following have
acted as petitioners in representation of one or more of the alleged victims in the proceedings
before the Commission: Hugo Oscar Arguëlles; attorneys Ruth Irene Friz (since deceased)
Alberto Antonio De Vita and Angel Mauricio Cueto; attorney Eduardo Barcesat; and attorney
Juan Carlos Vega (hereinafter “the petitioners”).
2. The alleged victims were prosecuted for military fraud and related offenses in proceedings
initiated in September of 1980. The crimes at issue concerned the handling and channeling of
military funds, spanned several years, and were committed in various departments and
installations of the military. Those proceedings terminated with the dismissal of their final
“recurso de hecho” against their convictions by the Supreme Court in April of 1998. The
petitioners contend that the alleged victims were arbitrarily and illegally deprived of their
liberty because they were held in preventive detention for periods exceeding 7 or 8 years, and
were held in incommunicado detention for periods of days between their initial detention and
declarations. They maintain that the alleged victims were not tried within a reasonable time,
and suffered multiple violations of their right to judicial protection and guarantees, including
lack of adequate legal representation and the systematic transgression of the principle of
equality of arms between the prosecution and defense. They allege that the military justice
regime applied was incompatible with the requirements of the American Convention on Human
Rights (hereinafter “American Convention”), and affirm related violations of the right to appeal
a conviction before a higher court. The petitioners contend that the proceedings to which the
alleged victims were subjected gave rise to violations of the rights to personal liberty (Article
7), judicial protection and guarantees (Articles 25 and 8), equal protection of the law (Article
24), to receive the benefit of a lesser penalty enacted subsequent to the commission of the
offense (Article 9), and to be compensated in the case of being sentenced by a final judgment
through a miscarriage of justice (Article 10) recognized in the American Convention.
3. The State maintains that the alleged victims, members of the military at the time of the
offenses for which they were prosecuted, were duly tried in accordance with the military justice
system, which protects specific values and necessarily has special characteristics. The State
emphasizes that the proceedings at issue were complex, involving numerous defendants in
various locations, an extensive case file, and a highly technical investigation of accounting and
fraud issues. To summarize, the State considers the petition inadmissible, first, because the
principal allegations raised were addressed by the competent military and judicial authorities
and found to lack merit. Second, the State argues that the alleged victims never invoked
judicial remedies to seek the compensation they now pursue before the Commission. Third, the
Sate indicates that, in any case, the petitioners have failed to set forth any facts characterizing
a violation of the Convention.

1

Select target paragraph3