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Accused in journalist's murder may be released

(PERIODISTAS/IFEX)- The 6 March 2003 edition of the daily "Clarín" stated that at least three of the people sentenced to prison for the assassination of "Noticias" photojournalist José Luis Cabezas may be released as a result of court delays. The defence for three of the accused is arguing that it has taken the court too long to deliver a definitive verdict in the 2000 appeal and that as a result, his clients should be released.

In February 2000, the Dolores Criminal Court named eight people responsible for the crime committed on 25 January 1997 in Pinamar, Buenos Aires. Of the accused, three were police officers, one was the chief of security for businessman Alfredo Yabrán and four were part of the "Los Horneros" gang. Several of the defence lawyers appealed the verdict, citing irregularities in the proceedings. A decision has not been delivered concerning this appeal, and as a result, the case has not been definitively solved.

Lawyer Juan Martín Cerolini requested that the Dolores Court release his clients, José Luis Auge, Horacio Braga and Sergio González of the "Horneros", because "too much time has lapsed without a sentence." "Clarín" said that "while Cerolini's request only names his three clients, imprisoned since 1997, the ruling could set a precedent that could be used by the rest of the accused." The Criminal Court should decide on Cerolini's request during the week of 10 March.

With respect to the ruling of February 2000, PERIODISTAS said, "It is probable, though not certain, that the accused played a part in the crime. But it is evident that they were not the ones most responsible and that the ruling has not taken into account the motives or the circumstances of this terrible event, as should be done in a serious judicial process. We therefore regret that the assassination of José Luis Cabezas remains on the long list of atrocities committed with impunity, which lower the quality of democratic life in Argentina." It would be even more regrettable if three of Cabezas' killers were freed simply because it has taken the court too long to reach a decision.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to the Buenos Aires Appeal Court:
- asking that it deal promptly with the petition to have three of the accused released, so that definitive sentences can be handed down in the Cabezas assassination case

Appeals To

Provincial Appeal Court
Fax: +54 221 423 4988 / +54 221 422 8243

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

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