Argentina court sentences two executives to prison, but victims' lawyer suggests Ford company had direct control and criminal culpability.
The executives have been given long jail terms for turning a Ford factory into a detention center during Argentina's dictatorship. At least 24 employees and labour leaders at Ford were kidnapped and tortured.
The move is the first time high-level corporate leaders have been given prison sentences over crimes committed during Argentina's so-called ‘Dirty War.’ Following a year-long trial, Hector Sibilla, the former head of security at Ford's Buenos Aires factory, was sentenced to 12 years in prison. His co-defendant, manufacturing manager Pedro Muller was given 10 years. The court declared that both men ‘were necessary participants in the illegal deprivation of liberty, aggravated by the use of violence and threats,’ against labour leaders and union advocates. Mr Sibilla was also found to have been present during at least one torture session. Court papers stated, they ‘allowed a detention center to be set up inside the premises of that factory, in the recreational area, so that the abductees could be interrogated,’ adding that the victims ‘were handcuffed, beaten and had their faces covered so they could not see who was interrogating then.’
Lawyer may go after Ford
Argentina's military dictatorship,from 1976 to 1983, launched a ‘Dirty War’ comprising extrajudicial killings, kidnappings, torture, imprisonment and forced disappearances of tens of thousands of people, mostly leftists, students, journalists, artists, and trade unionists. The two men are currently out of prison on conditional release barring them from traveling outside the country, but the presiding judge stated they will be jailed as soon as their appeals are exhausted. The Ford company itself was not implicated in the suit. However, Tomas Ojea, a lawyer for the victims, said that the Ford corporation was in direct control of its Argentine branches at the time and must have had some knowledge of the crimes. He implied that going after the company could be the next step.