Uruguay senate votes to revoke amnesty law

AP News
Posted: Oct 25, 2011 8:06 PM
Uruguay senate votes to revoke amnesty law

Uruguay's senate voted Tuesday to revoke an amnesty law protecting scores of officials in the country's 1973-1985 dictatorship from human rights prosecutions.

Backed by the governing Broad Front coalition, the vote squeaked through by a 16-15 margin and will be voted on by the Uruguay's Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday.

The move would meet an Inter-American Human Rights court demand that the South American country lift impediments to prosecuting dictatorship-era crimes.

Sen. Eduardo Lorier told The Associated Press the senate's decision establishes that dictatorship-era crimes are crimes against humanity and not subject to amnesty. The Supreme Court has ruled they are common crimes.

Those who don't vote against the amnesty "are defending impunity and defending kidnappers," Lorier, who supports the measure, said during the senate debate.

The opposition has said the law approved violates the constitution and that the amnesty was approved by Uruguayans in national referendums in 1989 and 2009.

Nationalist Sen. Jorge Saravia called Tuesday's vote "a coup d'etat" that ignores the decision of citizens in the two plebiscites.

Congressional allies of President Jose Mujica tried and failed to revoke the amnesty law in May.

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Earlier administrations issued decrees stating that roughly 80 cases were covered by the amnesty law.

Uruguay's Congress approved the military amnesty in 1986, after leftist guerrillas who had fought the government received amnesties.

Members of Uruguay's armed forces have threatened to seek prosecution of former Tupamaro guerrillas if legislators strike down the amnesty.

"Once this process of eliminating the law is over and we have seen the consequences, we will present accusations to the justice system against those responsible for assassinations who were never tried," said Ret. Col. Guillermo Cedres.