NEW YORK (Nov. 2)
Three of the five members of the Deutsch family first kidnapped from their home in Cordoba, Argentina, on Aug. 27 and then detained by government authorities, have been released, according to an official of the Anti-Defamation League who just returned from a two-week visit to Argentina and other Latin American countries.
Speaking before a meeting of ADL leaders in Buffalo, N.Y., Rabbi Morton M. Rosenthal, director of the agency’s Latin American affairs department, described the release of Mrs. Helena Deutsch and two of her daughters, Susana and Elsa, as an “encouraging sign” although her husband, Alejandro, a businessman and artist, and the couple’s youngest daughter, Liliana, remain in custody.
He said that concern for the well-being of the Deutsch family will remain high until the entire family is freed. He pointed out that in Argentina, the family’s arrest is generally believed to have been a blunder by low-level police officials who were looking for the Deutschs’ son.
The Deutsch family was kidnapped by a band of 12 men dressed in civilian clothing. In response repeated inquiries from abroad, the Argentinian government announced 10 days after the kidnapping that the family was being detained by government authorities. The case drew worldwide attention and protests.
NOT INVOLVED IN UNLAWFUL ACTS
Rosenthal said that friends and neighbors, as well as the Deutsch family itself, have denied involvement in any unlawful activities. Since the release of Mrs. Deutsch and her two daughters, he added, many neighbors have called on them, bringing flowers to express their sympathy. “If there was any doubt of their innocence,” Rosenthal declared, “this would not have happened because the neighbors would fear being charged with guilt by association.”
He also reported that a proposed law to deter anti-Semitism was submitted last month by the Argentine government. The proposal, which is being studied by the Legislative Advisory Commission, calls for prison sentences for those Found guilty of anti-Semitic activity.
Rosenthal added that the overall situation in Argentina remains serious, that arrests and arbitrary disappearances continue at a high rate, and that treatment of political prisoners has become severe with physical abuse commonplace in some jails. He warned that there is no foreseeable end to the Argentinian government’s war against alleged ideological subversion. He said that “without clearly defined legal guidelines and safeguards, everybody is vulnerable and so potential critics of government policy are being silenced by fear.