REPORT No. 135/11 CASE 12.167 MERITS HUGO OSCAR ARGUËLLES ET AL. ARGENTINA October 31, 2011 I. SUMMARY 1. Beginning on June 5, 1998 until October 28, 1998, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Commission) received a series of petitions filed on behalf of 21 individuals, all members of the Argentine military: (1) Hugo Oscar Arguëlles, (2) Enrique Jesús Aracena, (3) Carlos Julio Arancibia, (4) Julio Cesar Allendes, (5) Ricardo Omar Candurra, (6) Miguel Oscar Cardozo, (7) José Eduardo di Rosa, (8) Carlos Alberto Galluzzi, (9) Gerardo Felix Giordano, (10) Aníbal Ramón Machín, (11) Miguel Angel Maluf, (12) Ambrosio Marcial (deceased), (13) Luis José López Mattheus, (14) José Arnaldo Mercau, (15) Felix Oscar Morón, (16) Horacio Eugenio Oscar Muñoz, (17) Juan Italo Obolo (18) Alberto Jorge Pérez, (19) Enrique Luján Pontecorvo, (20) Miguel Ramón Taranto, and (21) Nicolás Tomasek against the Argentine Republic (State) for violation of their rights to personal liberty, guarantees of due process and judicial protection, Articles 1.1, 5, 7, 8, 10, 24 and 25 of the American Convention on Human Rights (American Convention). On the basis of the substantial similarity of the allegations of fact and law presented, the respective petitions were accumulated into one file and given the number 12.167 for purposes of the admissibility report. 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 (the petitioners). 2. The petitioners emphasized that the case must be understood within its context and stated that the proceedings were initiated against the alleged victims during a situation of institutional exceptionalism, which lasted from March 24, 1976 until December 9, 1983. According to the petitioners, the Armed Forces had to resolve the financial disequilibrium produced in their respective areas, both for what had been done during the so called “anti-subversive struggle” as well as subsequently for the War of the Malvinas and the South Atlantic. The alleged victims were prosecuted and convicted for military fraud and forgery in proceedings initiated in September of 1980. The crimes at issue spanned three years (1978-1980) and were committed in 14 various departments and installations of the military and concerned the handling and channeling of military funds. The record of the trial comprises 73 principal parts and numerous annexes. The judicial proceedings terminated in April 1998 when the Supreme Court dismissed their final domestic remedy, an appeal (recurso de queja/ hecho) against their convictions. 3. The petitioners contend that the alleged victims were deprived of their human rights to due process and access to justice during the course of the military and civilian proceedings against them, in particular, because the provisions of the Code of Military Justice (CMJ) did not conform to the international standards for due process set forth in the American Convention. The crux of their complaint is not that they were innocent of the crimes of military fraud and forgery for which they were convicted, but that procedural errors were committed in the processing of their cases that allegedly violated their fundamental human rights and warrant the nullification of their convictions. Specifically, the petitioners allege that they were arbitrarily and illegally deprived of their liberty because they were held in preventive detention for periods exceeding the prison terms to which they were eventually sentenced; they maintain that they were held in incommunicado detention for periods of days in excess of that permitted by law; they maintain that they 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, of the right not to be compelled to testify against oneself, of the right to appeal a judgment to a higher court and the systematic transgression of the principle of equality of arms between the prosecution and defense.