Argentine Official Blames Police for Attacks on Jewish Cemeteries

Buenos Aires’ new civilian police chief is blaming policemen for two recent desecrations of tombstones at Jewish cemeteries near here.

On Dec. 24, 66 tombs at the La Tablada cemetery were destroyed.

Exactly one week later, 22 tombstones were destroyed at a Jewish cemetery located in a suburb of Buenos Aires.

Luis Lugones, a lawyer who was recently appointed to reform the capital’s notoriously corrupt police force, said the point of the attacks was to “cause chaos and instability in the force.”

“The attackers will be found and punished,” he said.

The president of the Argentine Jewish umbrella organization DAIA, Ruben Beraja, agreed with Lugones.

“We believe that former policemen or people hired by policemen carried out both attacks against our cemeteries,” Beraja said.

Members of Buenos Aires’ police force have been suspected of involvement in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center, which killed 86 people. But no suspects have been charged and the crime remains unsolved.

After years of investigation of corruption, the province’s governor took a number of steps in early December to reform the force, including the dismissal of 300 precinct lieutenants.

The newspaper Pagina 12 recently quoted a former lieutenant announcing “reprisals” to protest the changes in the force.

“Former cops will not lay down. They shall hit. They will rob banks and attack Jews,” the unnamed lieutenant told the paper.

Police sources said in an interview that the group, the Buenos Aires Movement, is directed by some of the former lieutenants.

“They are out now, but they have friends still in the force that will protect them, that will look the other way,” the source said.

Argentine Jewish groups are planning to stage a protest at the La Tablada cemetery Jan. 11.

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