Argentina prosecutor Julio Cesar Strassera dies at 81

AP News
|
Posted: Feb 27, 2015 2:39 PM
Argentina prosecutor Julio Cesar Strassera dies at 81

BUENOS AIRES (AP) — Julio Cesar Strassera, the prosecutor who won conviction against leaders of Argentina's dictatorship and coined the term "Nunca mas," or "Never again," to describe the repressive period, has died at age 81.

Strassera died Friday in the San Camilo Clinic in Buenos Aires after being admitted several days ago for grave respiratory problems, Mario Kenar, the clinic's chief therapist, told the television station Todo Noticias.

Strassera is remembered for his role in the 1985 trial and convictions of several military leaders responsible for the repression and disappearance of several thousand people on their watch.

"Your honors, I want to use a phrase that does not belong to me, because it belongs to all Argentine people," Strassera said during closing statements in the case.  "Your honors, 'Never again.' "

The case, coming less than two years Argentina returned to democracy in 1983, was watched worldwide and had particular resonance in Latin America, where several countries were emerging from military dictatorships in the 1980s.

Former de facto presidents Jorge Rafael Videla and Roberto Viola, along with other military leaders, received prison sentences of varying lengths.

As word spread Friday about Strassera's death, social media sites were filled with messages from Argentines across the political spectrum.

Graciela Fernandez Meijide, the mother of an adolescent who disappeared during the dictatorship, praised Strassera for his courage.

"It's a sad day. A just man has died. Rest in peace, Julio Cesar Strassera," Congressman Ricardo Alfonsin said in a tweet. He is the son of former President Raul Alfonsin, who was president during the historic trials.