In Israel, one more citizen; in Argentina, charged in a case for crimes against humanity | International
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In 1976, three weeks after the military coup in Argentina, Shlomo Slutzky took advantage of the fact that, being a Jew, he could emigrate to Israel and probably not become one of the 30,000 disappeared, including his second cousin and left-wing activist Samuel. Twenty-seven years later, shortly after the corralito, another Argentine, Teodoro Aníbal Gauto, settled in the same country thanks to the fact that his wife had Jewish roots, which gave them both the right to nationality. Their lives intersected in 2013, when Slutzky began to investigate the murders and torture in La Cacha, the clandestine center in the city of La Plata where Samuel was last seen. He discovered that Interpol had issued a search and arrest warrant against Gauto to clarify in Argentina his possible role in crimes against humanity during the years in which he worked as a civilian in the 101, the military intelligence detachment that operated that same center.
“Suddenly, it turned out that a potential murderer of this cousin [segundo] he was 100 kilometers from here, having entered Israel illegally. It’s like she was laughing at me and fate was laughing at me, ”she recalls today in a cafeteria near his house in Tel Aviv, where she lives. Slutzky then began a battle -unsuccessful so far- to bring him to justice, which has included escraches, lawsuits and even a meeting with the Argentine president, Alberto Fernández, since Israel is not obliged to extradite him. He and his son Tomer have captured the campaign in the documentary our angerwhich will arrive in Buenos Aires on the 24th after its premiere last month at the film festival in the Israeli city of Haifa.
“The film is just one more means to reach the public, the authorities, so that people ask: How can something like this be?” explains Slutzky, a 66-year-old journalist and documentarian. symbolically, our anger It almost begins and ends the same way: with father and son in front of Gauto’s house in Kiriat Bialik, a town in northern Israel. In the last one, in 2021, filling mailboxes, windshields and trees with leaflets in Spanish and Hebrew with a reward offer and the word “wanted”. It is almost a graphic reflection of the impasse to which the case has come, with the Interpol order annulled and the trial in the Israeli Supreme Court pending new documentation. Gauto continues to be accused of crimes against humanity in Argentina, which requests his extradition for the investigation, that is, so that he can testify before the judge and the judge then determines whether to prosecute him or not.
The Slutzkys began to follow the trail of Gauto, who is now 73 years old, in 2013. Ten years earlier, he was being prosecuted in Argentina for a Central Bank scam that he allegedly committed in the 1990s. The judge allowed him to go temporarily to Israel with the obligation to return. He took the opportunity to emigrate, lying on the Jewish Agency form by marking that he had no pending legal proceedings and changing his name to Yosef Karmel, according to the documentary. In the eighties he had had two other trials: one for theft, forgery of documents and fraud, in La Plata; and another in Spain for stealing checks and imitating the signature to collect them in Madrid, according to what appears, respectively, in a document from the Argentine Police and another from Interpol. The three crimes have already prescribed.
At first, Slutzky limited himself to notifying the Foreign Ministry, the Israeli Embassy in Argentina and the Jewish Agency, without making it public. In the Interior they told him that his nationality could have been revoked -for cheating on the form- in the first three years, but now he only had the courts.
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It was then that he began to denounce the matter in the media of both countries and took the issue to the Israeli Supreme Court. In 2018, she received two sticks. On the one hand, an Interior commission decided to maintain Gauto’s citizenship on the basis of his roots. On the other, the judge in the case in Argentina changed and the new one decided to annul the international arrest warrant and exonerate him from imprisonment, due to the absence of new evidence against him in all these years.
A year later, Slutzky suffered a heart attack and had to undergo open heart surgery. His lawyer ended up convincing him to postpone the trial. That same year, Gauto flew to Argentina without being arrested, despite continuing to be charged in the case, as noted in the film.
Among so much bad news, something filled Slutzky with hope: the coming to power of Alberto Fernández, in 2020. Even more so when he learned that his first trip abroad would be to Israel, where tens of thousands of members of the community are installed. Argentine Jewish, the largest in Latin America. The number of Jews disappeared during the dictatorship was also much greater than their population weight, due to the anti-Semitism of the coup leaders and because they were more involved in leftist and university movements.
They met at a wide table and he summarized the case. In the documentary, Fernández can be seen talking to him excitedly about the need for justice and giving him his mobile number. Just a few weeks later, covid-19 arrived and Gauto’s extradition became the last concern of that and any other government.
Gauto was contacted by EL PAÍS, but preferred not to make statements.
– I do not want to talk. he already does it [Slutzky] for the two of us.
– I understand. But just one thing: if he considers himself innocent, why doesn’t he just travel to Argentina and testify so that everything is cleared up?
— Everything is before justice, here and there. There are judges and there are lawyers, so I don’t need to say anything.
In the documentary, snippets of two telephone conversations with him are heard. In the first, with Slutzky senior, he admits that he worked (between 1975 and 1979) in detachment 101 ―from which three other civilians have been convicted―, in which he limited himself to “making files with names and surnames” of those who arrived, which sometimes included data such as “communist or Marxist-Leninist”. He justifies it in that he was young and wanted money, but he clarifies that he has no ideology and did not participate in human rights violations. In a shorter one and years later, with his son, he presents himself as a “small fish” who have been artificially “enlarged” with so much activism to take him to court.
At first, Slutzky thought that all the obstacles to extradition “were a bureaucratic matter or misunderstandings.” He now he believes that there are “other things”. These “other things” have to do with the fact that detachment 101 exchanged intelligence information with Israel (which sold weapons to the dictatorship, despite the international boycott) when the Peronist guerrilla organization Montoneros received training from the Palestine Liberation Organization in Lebanon. , a neighboring country facing Israel. One of the elements that fuels his suspicion is that, during the Supreme Court hearing in 2017, the judge asked everyone to leave the room because they had to communicate secret information to him.
The documentary ends in July 2021. Since then, Slutzky has testified in the case as a witness and has met with the Argentine Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Martín Soria. He believes that “someone needs to come to Israel and say: ‘Yes, the question of [los atentados en los noventa contra] the AMIA and the Embassy [israelí en Buenos Aires] and you raise it every day. But for us it is also memory, truth and justice. And they’re not just helping us figure it out.” Nor has it contributed that Israel held, until last day 1, five elections since 2019.
Slutzky insists that this is how he acts as an “Israeli patriot.” “Sometimes my son tells me: ‘Look, he is already marked, he has already received a certain punishment’. But I think that his presence here makes this country dirty ”.
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