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Argentina’s Human Rights Secretary, Eduardo Luis Duhalde, yesterday filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Federal Government calling for an investigation into the “illegal appropriation” of newsprint firm Papel Prensa. The Kirchner administration presented criminal charges against former leaders and officials of the military regime, and executives of local newspapers possibly involved in the 1976 sale of the company.
The formal complaint, filed by Duhalde in the city of La Plata before the Judicial System, demands an investigation of certain media authorities. It appeals for an examination of the evidence of Dirty War crimes of extortion and torture that may have occurred during the sale, which would constitute serious crimes against humanity.
Furthermore the paper discusses the role of the major media agencies associated with the dictatorship and includes details of press persecution and disappearances of journalists between 1976 and 1977.
President Kirchner has previously suggested that the newspapers obtained Papel Prensa through a forced sale, arresting and torturing the family of the owner, David Gravier, who had been covertly supporting the leftist guerrilla group, the Montoneros.
The official document, entitled “Papel Prensa: The Truth”, and consisting of some 200 pages, argues that through intimidation and threats, several victims were forced to sell their shares in Papel Prensa to national press agencies La Nación, Clarín, and La Razon (later absorbed by Clarín).
The investigation would summon Jorge Rafael Videla, Jose Alfredo Martinez de Hoz, and Hector Luis Magnetto, as well as the director of Clarín Laura Ernestina Herrera de Noble, among others.
Media giants La Nación and Clarín, with whom the Kirchners have been feuding for two years, deny the accusations and have rejected the investigation into possible crimes. Producing over 70% of the newsprint in Argentina, the majority of shares in Papel Prensa are owned by both La Nación and Clarín.
This development occurs following the Presidents’ request last month for a judicial resolution into whether “crimes against humanity” were committed by the military and civilians, forcing Papel Prensa to sell to the three newspapers.