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Julio César Strassera

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Julio César Strassera

Julio César Strassera
Born 1933 (age 81–82)
Buenos Aires
Nationality Argentine
Alma mater University of Buenos Aires

Julio César Strassera (born 1933) is an Argentine lawyer and jurist. He served as Chief Prosecutor during the historic 1985 Trial of the Juntas.

Life and times

Early life

Strassera was born in Buenos Aires in 1933. He attended the prestigious Colegio San José college preparatory school, left two years shy of graduation, and returned to complete his secondary studies. He would later enroll at the University of Buenos Aires and earn a juris doctor in 1963. He was named Secretary of a Buenos Aires Federal Court shortly after the March 1976 coup, and was later appointed as a Federal Prosecutor.[1]

Role during the Dirty War

His tenure as Federal Prosecutor coincided with the height of the [5]

Another contentious motion filed by Strassera as prosecutor pertained to the July 4, 1976, San Patricio Church massacre, charges related to which he successfully moved to have the presiding judge drop.[6] Strassera was named Criminal court Judge in 1981, an appointment he considered a demotion since he would be relegated to "sentencing chicken thieves."[1]

Trial of the Juntas

He was reappointed prosecutor, however, following the election of President military dictatorship tried by a civilian appeals court, Strassera was offered the post of Chief Counsel for the Prosecution by the Minister of Justice, Carlos Alconada Aramburú.[1]

Chief Prosecutor Julio César Strassera (left) reads closing arguments in the historic Trial of the Juntas.

Strassera appointed Assistant Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, who at the time served as counsel in the Solicitor General's department. Both men had served in Justice Ministry posts during the dictatorship, and both would now prosecute crimes against humanity by its leaders; they were also the only two of the many prosecutors contacted who accepted the challenging posts.[1]

The difficulty of gathering evidence and testimony from reluctant witnesses for this, the first proceedings of their kind since the Nürnberg Trials (and the fist conducted in a civilian court), was compounded by pressure from many of the implicated in the abuses and their allies. Strassera's office was contacted on numerous occasions from the former Interior Minister during the dictatorship, General Albano Harguindeguy, as well as right-wing figures in the ruling UCR itself,[7] and during the trial itself, 29 bomb threats were received in Buenos Aires schools and a number were detonated in key government installations.[8]

Hearings officially began on April 22, 1985, upon which Strassera presented 709 cases to the presiding tribunal. Ultimately, 280 were heard, and 833 witnesses testified (including a former President, General [7] The number of defendants, however, were narrowed to the nine leading junta members in power from 1976 to 1982, and would exclude the roughly 600 officers charged at the time with abuses in courts across the country.[9]

The last day of testimony took place on August 14. Strassera presented charges against the nine defendants (including three former Presidents) on September 11. He argued that sentences for each defendant be dictated by the proven role of each military junta in the cases heard by the court; the tribunal, however, ruled that sentencing should be determined by the role of each brach of the Argentine Armed Forces in each case, thereby lessening sentences for the Air Force commanders on trial.[10]

Strassera presented closing arguments on September 18, saying:

Later career

The December 9 sentencing of General Eduardo Massera to life imprisonment, of three others to lighter sentences, and the acquittal of four others for insufficient evidence proved a disappointment to most supporters of the trials. The 1986 — 87 enactment of the Full Stop Law and the Law of Due Obedience effectively halted most remaining prosecutions, moreover, and those sentenced were ultimately pardoned in 1989 and 1990 by President Carlos Menem.[11]

Strassera subsequently represented Argentina at the [1]

The noted prosecutor and jurist would remain a controversial figure in Argentina, however. Strassera defended Buenos Aires Mayor Aníbal Ibarra during his 2005 impeachment trial against charges of negligence as the city's chief magistrate during the deadly República Cromañón nightclub fire.[12] He later became a vocal opponent of Kirchnerism despite the numerous changes enacted by President Néstor Kirchner that allowed trials of hitherto immune Dirty War perpetrators to proceed.[13] He opposed the extradition request against former President Isabel Perón (whose authorization of Operativo Independencia in 1975 arguably began the Dirty War),[14] and insinuated that the Kirchners were needlessly prolonging trials against indicted officers for political expediency.[12]

Amid a series of controversies between Clarín and Kirchnerism, an exchange of accusations followed Strassera's defense of the Clarín Media Group's claim that Papel Prensa had been acquired lawfully from the Graivers.[15] Cabinet Chief Aníbal Fernández pointed to Strassera's sanctions against lawyers who presented Habeas Corpus petitions during the 1976 — 83 dictatorship as proof that his role in the subsequent Trial of the Juntas was merely pretense,[3] and Strassera, in turn, accused the Kirchners of "never having done anything for human rights in Argentina," and instead "dedicating themselves to making money."[16]


  1. ^ a b c d e (Number 16, 1999)Revista Exactamente (Spanish)
  2. ^ (30 May 1999)Página/12 (Spanish)
  3. ^ a b (23 Sep 2010)La Nación (Spanish)
  4. ^ (28 Aug 2010)Página/12 (Spanish)
  5. ^ (29 Aug 2010)Página/12 (Spanish)
  6. ^ El Ortiba: Masacre de los Palotinos (Spanish)
  7. ^ a b (9 Dec 2005)Página/12 (Spanish)
  8. ^ (26 Oct 1985)El País (Spanish)
  9. ^ National Geographic Magazine (August 1986). Argentina's New Beginning.
  10. ^ a b Ciancaglini, Sergio, and Granovsky, Martín. Nada más que la verdad: el juicio a las juntas. Buenos Aires: Planeta, 1995.
  11. ^ Feitlowitz, Marguerite. A Lexicon of Terror: Argentina and the Legacies of Torture. Oxford University Press, 2002.
  12. ^ a b (31 Dec 2008)Zárate 24 Horas (Spanish)
  13. ^ La Mañana de Córdoba (Spanish)
  14. ^ (15 Jan 2007)Terra (Spanish)
  15. ^ (27 Aug 2010)Clarín (Spanish)
  16. ^ (22 Sep 2010)La Nación (Spanish)
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