Nicolaides Cristino et al.

Key Judgment

Legal Relevance

Keywords: Relatives as Victims | Children/Youth | Crimes Against Humanity | Women and Girls | Deprivation of Liberty | Systemic Practice

Themes: Persons and Groups Affected | Related Crimes

The Court established that a permanent clandestine organisation existed which had as its aim the commission of multiple crimes, including the systematic abduction of children born to illegally detained women and the breaking of all biological family ties by their removal and by the concealment of what had been done. It held that it was composed of the highest military ranks, persons in the armed forces and intelligence services and military doctors. The Court inferred from the way the system ran that it operated under the Military Intitute Command.

The Court held that the crimes carried out within the framework of the plan were crimes against humanity under international law. The crimes were committed within a context in which the military junta implemented a system of illegal repression resulting in a systematic practice of attacking the civilian population, deployed with the purpose of exterminating a sector of it and terrorising the rest, with the consent and participation of public officials. It also held that, due to its seriousness and the plurality of the rights affected, those crimes had in many cases permanent effects, not only for those kidnapped, but also for the children and their families.

The Court found the Commander and Second Commander of the Military Institute, as well as the Deputy Director and the Head of the military hospital's medical clinic responsible as co-authors of the crime of "illicit association". In this respect, it maintained that although the highest officials of the Military Institutes Command had operational responsibility over the plan, several members of the hospital, and military and gendarmerie personnel who guarded the kidnapped women and who carried out transfers also participated. The different areas of responsibility showed that each of them had effective knowledge of the plan they carried out. The Court further found the accused responsible for the crimes of: a) abduction, retention and concealment of minors under 10 years of age; b) replacement of the latter’s identities; c) illegal deprivation of their mothers' freedom (aggravated by them being public officials, the use of violence and the duration); and ) torture. It found the Commander and the Second Commander responsible as mediated authors for these crimes, as they steered the actions of the executors due to their hierarchical position. It also found the Deputy Director and the Head of the medical clinic responsible as participants, as without their collaboration the crimes could not have been committed.

Judgment Date

May 9, 2013



Judicial Body

Argentina - Federal Criminal and Correctional Court

Articles violated

Article 139 [ACC], Article 141 [ACC], Article 142 bis [ACC], Article 144 ter [ACC], Article 146 [ACC], Article 210 bis [ACC]

Facts of the Case

Between 1976 and 1980, during the military dictatorship, a number of pregnant women were illegally deprived of their freedom and detained in inhuman conditions in clandestine detention centres within a military prison. After doctors and nurses verified they were pregnant, they women were separated from other detainees and, close to the delivery date, hooded, tied and transferred at night to a military hospital guarded by military or gendarmerie personnel. Their admission to the hospital was not recorded and their identity was not verified. The women were looked after and examined by military doctors and nurses. Occasionally, civilian doctors cared for them, but they had to remove their identification and they were not allowed to talk to the detainees. The women gave birth after having been given medicine to speed up the labour, or through caesarean sections. They were then transferred back to their place of detention, without their children, and told that the children were going to be handed over to their relatives. No record was kept regarding the health of the women, the birth of their children, or their identities. The women were later transferred to unknown destinations. In some cases, the identity of the children, registered as biological or adopted children of other people, were proven through judicial proceedings, but in other cases, both mothers and their children remained disappeared at the time of the proceedings.

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