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    Uruguay's Commander-in-chief of the Navy, Carlos Abilleira, together with Jorge Diaz, Attorney General. | Photo: Uruguay Attorney General's office

Published 7 April 2019

Retired Rear Admiral HectorBerruti said in a radio interview that during the dictatorship "every day" he received a "list with people who had to be eliminated."

The commander-in-chief of Uruguay’s Navy, Carlos Abilleira, met with Attorney General, Jorge Diaz, on Friday to denounce the statements made by retired Rear Admiral Hector Berrutti, regarding knowledge of “kill lists” during the 1973 - 1985 dictatorship.

Uruguay's President Removes Top Defense Officials Over Military Dictatorship-Era Cover-Up

Last Wednesday, during the presidential campaign launch ceremony of the former Army commander in chief Guido Manini Rios, Berruti said in a radio interview that during the dictatorship "every day" he received a "list with people who had to be eliminated", adding that  “as an experienced public official, I filed them in a drawer. More than one person came to thank me later."

Abillera considers that these public statements showcase “situations of aberrant and apparently criminal acts" that "would have occurred within the National Navy" with Berruti’s knowledge, yet indicated that he "never" knew about it and that is why he asked the Attorney General for "the intervention of justice."

Today I received the Commander in Chief of the Navy, Admiral Carlos Abilleira, who informed me of the public statements of the Rear Admiral (r) Berrutti in which expresses aberrant acts of criminal character.

The Prosecutor's Office informed on Friday that after receiving the report submitted by Abillera, as well as the audio with Berrutti's statements, it proceeded to forward it to Ricardo Perciaballe, a prosecutor specializing in Crimes against Humanity.

This new exposé comes as Uruguayan President Tabare Vasquez announced April 1 the dismissal of Defense Minister Jorge Melendez, the Deputy Minister Daniel Montiel, the new army chief Jose Gonzalez, as well as two members of the Army Court of Honor, over the omission of key confessions during an investigation into a case dating back to the country’s military dictatorship.

The confessions were published on March 30 in local newspaper El Observador. Former soldier Jose "Nino" Gavazzo admitted to having thrown the body of leftist Tupamaro militant Roberto Gomensoro into the Negro River in 1973 with the intent to make him disappear. While Jorge "Pajarito" Silveira accused Gavazzo of murdering Gomensoro, as well as young activist Maria Claudia Garcia de Gelman, who was pregnant at the time of her abduction, as well as another detainee.

Despite the evidence, in September 2018, the military court concluded the acts of both involved did not affect the army's honor according to documents signed by the Minister of Defense and his deputy minister, Daniel Montiel; dismissing the confession altogether. 

Presidential candidate and former Army commander in chief, Manini Rios, declared that there is a "totally false" version in which the Uruguayan Army Honor Court covered up the former military man Gavazzo, heavily criticizing President Vasquez for his decision, and raising alarms once again, as his demeanor has been compared to current Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s. 

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