Federal Judge Daniel Rafecas sentenced Américo Balbuena, the former Federal Police agent who posed as a journalist for the Rodolfo Walsh News Agency for more than a decade, to two years in prison.
The same sentence was received by their chiefs of the Force Investigation Corps, Alejandro Sánchez and Alfonso Ustares. The three were found guilty of the crime of breach of duties as a public official.
The magistrate also imposed special disqualification from holding charges for double the time of the sentence, that is, four years.
In addition to that, he rejected a motion for annulment of the elevation to trial that had promoted the defense of Balbuena and Sánchez. In the same sense, he ruled on a prescription request for “violation of the guarantee of reasonable time” and another for recusal that had been formulated by the defense of Ustares.
The verdict was known at the end of a hearing that started yesterday after 2:30 p.m. in Comodoro Py.
The day opened with the replies of the complaint to points of the defense argument. It was the lawyers Matías Aufieri, Liliana Mazea and Myriam Bregman, representing the Center for Human Rights Professionals (Ceprodh), who sought to overthrow a series of reproaches such as that the case was prescribed, that the chain of custody of the evidence had been broken , that Balbuena had acted in good faith by not hiding his real name and that the damage was non-existent, among others.
“Balbuena’s use of his real identity did not prevent him from being infiltrated until someone who knew his role revealed the truth. It would not imply an act of good faith to have used his real identity, something that could not have been otherwise because (NdR: the founder of the Walsh Agency, Rodolfo) Grinberg had known him since childhood, ”said Aufieri.
Then it was the turn of the defense, represented by Jorge Álvarez Berlanda (for Balbuena and Sánchez) and Hernán Carluccio and Bárbara Barlett (for Ustares), who in the pleadings had stated that “no crime could be proven.”
Balbuena, the main defendant, had been accused of having carried out political espionage for 11 years, posing as a journalist for the aforementioned popular agency. This with the endorsement of his bosses Sánchez and Ustares.
After the round of replies, the judge granted the three defendants the opportunity to express their last words, but none of the three did.
However, during the trial, Balbuena stated: “I never used journalistic information for police purposes. At the time I had thought of practicing the activity (journalism) after my retirement from the force. I really didn’t go to anyone’s house or to private gatherings. He always worked in public places, the press conferences were in bars, on the street”.
The verdict came after four days in which a dozen witnesses proposed by the complaint paraded – all members of the popular media or political, trade union and social organizations – who came to the same conclusion: “he was the first to arrive and the last to leave.” I was going” of each measure of force or activity carried out by the organizations.
For example, María del Carmen Verdú, head of the Coordinator Against Police Repression (Correpi), recounted that Balbuena once gave her a “very long” interview and that “I never saw it published.”
“The funny thing is that the guy could be there every day at any time and he didn’t move. He always wanted to obtain internal information, such as how many people were part of the organization, if there were renters, if we received subsidies and even the relationship with the other organizations, ”he added in his testimony before Rafecas.
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