Argentine Supreme Court Rules Against House Arrest of Timerman

The Argentine Supreme Court ruled unanimously last night that the military junta cannot legally continue to hold under house arrest Jacobo Timerman, the former publisher and editor of La Opinion.

Jacobo Kovadloff, director of South American affairs for the American Jewish Committee, in reporting the decision, said there is hope now that Timerman, who has been confined to his apartment in Buenos Aires for more than a year, may be released. Kovadloff, an Argentinian and former head of the A J Committee office in Buenos Aires, is a lifelong friend of the Argentine Jewish journalist.

Kovadloff said the Supreme Court acted on an appeal by Timerman’s lawyer against the “executive authority” headed by President Jorge Rafael Videla. The government in turn said Timerman was not its prisoner but that of the junta, which comprises the heads of the army, air force and navy. The court ruled that the junta cannot hold a political prisoner without cause.

Timerman was seized in his home in April, 1977 and kept in various prisons until a military tribunal declared in October, 1977 that they had no charges to hold him. The Supreme Court decided in July 1978 that his arrest was illegal but he has been kept under house arrest in his apartment ever since.

GRIM HUMAN RIGHTS REALITY

(In Washington, meanwhile, a spokesman of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs said: “Of all the Argentinian political detainees, without question the case of Jacobo Timeman is proving most costly to the Argentine government in terms of its international reputation. Every day that Jacobo Timerman is held under house arrest the world is being further educated on the grim human rights reality and the specter of anti-Semitism that presently exists in Argentina.”

(An observer in Washington said that the Argentine Supreme Court’s decision will prove embarrassing to the Argentine government but it might also be a pretext arranged by the government to ease its way toward the release of Timerman. He noted, however, that under its national executive powers, the government is not under obligation to abide by the court’s unanimous decision and can continue with impunity to hold Timerman.)

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