the figure of Tucuman businessman Carlos Pedro Blaquier, owner of the Ledesma sugar mill who died on March 13 at the age of 95was inevitably associated with the terrible “Night of the Blackout”, in which an estimated 400 people were kidnapped, of which 55 are still missing, during the military dictatorship.
The businessman died “with impunity” according to the HIJOS organization, which accused him of having been a “participant in State terrorism” during the dictatorship. The human rights group said that Blaquier died “without judicial sentence” because he was “systematically benefited by the judicial corporation.”
The billionaire was prosecuted, accused of having lent his company’s vans to the security forces in 1976 for the illegal detention of people, and of having cut off the electricity on the call “Blackout Night”during the dictatorship.
The judge said that the defendant and the former administrator of Ledesma, Alberto Lemos, provided company vans so that the kidnapped were transferred to police stations and to the clandestine detention center in Guerrero in an illegal procedure, which took place from the nights of December 20 to 27. July 1976.
At the age of 95, the businessman Carlos Pedro Blaquier died
The event ended with kidnappings of workers from the Ledesma company, neighbors and union representatives in the Jujuy localities of Libertador General San Martín, Calilegua and El Talar, in Jujuy.
In an official report on corporate responsibility in the dictatorship published in 2015, Ledesma SAAI was identified as an active collaborator and participant in the planning of repressive acts.
“Numerous testimonies and documents teach the ways of how managers and senior employees of Ledesma SAAI were involved in the kidnappings of the workerssome of which were produced in the same factory”, says the report published on the website of the Human Rights Secretariat.
“The company’s participation in illegal information logistics, of a persecutory nature, the close ties of the managers, including the owner Pedro Blaquier, with the agents of repression, the key role of ex-military as private officials, among other elements, illuminate corporate responsibility in crimes against humanity”, reads the document.
And he adds: “The case of Ledesma is characterized by the economic power that the company knew how to consolidate through the constant incorporation of land into its assets; the various sugar laws enacted during the different military governments that were benefiting it and the systematic breach of national and provincial laws that granted rights to workers, which determined, even during periods of economic crisis, a sustained growth of its profits and profits”.
What was the sugar businessman accused of?
Although the late businessman denied on several occasions before the Justice that he had participated in crimes against humanity, he once said that he “profoundly repudiated the atrocious crimes committed during that time.”
In mid-2012, Blaquier said that he and his company were “totally innocent and that the evidence and other elements prove that the accusations were “false” and that “they lacked all support”.
“We are accused of having lent Ledesma SAAI vans to the security forces for the illegal detention of people, and that we cut off the electricity on the so-called night of the blackout, which would have facilitated the aforementioned arrests.”
“I want you to know that it is completely false that we have done these things. We never loan vehicles to security forces,” he said in a letter.
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“In effect, 26 witnesses detained during July 1976 testified that they were transported in vehicles belonging to the security forces, the army and the municipality, but not from Ledesma SAAI,” he clarified.
“Nor could we have caused a power outage in the city of Calilegua, in July 1976, on the occasion of the so-called “blackout night”. It is important to know that Ledesma SAAI was never in charge or controlled the electricity supply of that city, which was the responsibility of the state company Agua y Energía de Jujuy,” he explained.
In November 2012, Federal judge Fernando Poviña prosecuted Blaquier for being an accomplice in the first degree of the illegal deprivation of aggravated liberty of 29 people (“Luis Burgos and others” case), accusing him of having ordered the former administrator of Ingenio Ledesma, Alberto Lemos, to provide the vehicles used in the operation.
Why was Carlos Blaquier not tried?
Despite the accusations, Blaquier never made it to the dock, since in 2015 the Federal Chamber of Criminal Cassation revoked the prosecution and the Supreme Court, despite the insistence of human rights organizations and the national government, “boxed” the case during the following years.
In July 2021, judges Horacio Rosatti, Juan Carlos Maqueda and Elena Highton signed a ruling in which they argued that the Court of Cassation had unduly hindered the progress of the case against Blaquier, stating that this decision had been “arbitrary” and that “unduly hindered the progress of the process.”
Las complaints achieved, in October of that year, that Blaquier was elevated to oral trial.
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As the Human Rights Secretariat expressed at the time, the two files were already in a position to be brought to trial in 2013, but they were paralyzed for 8 years due to appeals and then due to the lack of merit issued by Chamber IV of the Criminal Cassation Chamber. in 2015.
In April 2022, Blaquier was removed from the oral and public trial in the cases that had him prosecuted after the Judiciary determined that the defendant suffered from “supervening mental incapacity” that would prevent him from facing the hearings against him.
A forensic report published in September 2021 determined that the owner of the agribusiness had “a condition compatible with cognitive impairment, in at least a moderate phase,” which “It is considered that the condition hinders his performance, and he lacks sufficient mental autonomy to stand trial and/or to duly instruct his defense.”
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