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The military coup of March 1976 in Argentina ruptured the prevailing institutional order, with the greater part of its repressive strategy built on clandestine practices and tactics (death, torture and disappearance) that sowed fear across large swathes of Argentine society. Simultaneously, the terrorist state established a parallel, de facto legal order through which it endeavoured to legitimise its actions. Among other social forces, the judicial branch played a pivotal role in this project of legitimisation. While conscious of the fact that many of those inside the justice system were also targets of oppression, I would like to argue that the dictatorship‘s approach was not to establish a new judicial authority but, rather, to build upon the existing institutional structure, remodelling it to suit its own interests and objectives. Based on an analysis of the criminal and administrative proceedings that together were known as the Case of the judicial morgue, this article aims to examine the ways in which the bodies of the detained-disappeared that entered the morgue during the dictatorship were handled, as well as the rationales and practices of the doctors and other employees who played a part in this process. Finally, it aims to reflect upon the traces left by judicial and administrative bureaucratic structures in relation to the crimes committed by the dictatorship, and on the legal strategies adopted by lawyers and the families of the victims.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Towards atypology of the treatment of corpses of ‘disappeared detainees’ in Argentinafrom 1975 to 1983

Argentina  153 attacks and losses at the hands of the guerrillas. Moreover, they had put the basic structure of state terrorism to the test in the province of Tucumán between February and December 1975. The argument of avenging the dead, an issue that deserves investigation in the search for a deeper understanding of the slaughter that ensued, was added to the received indoctrination. From 24 March 1976 the armed forces and their civilian allies embarked on a campaign of repression against the ‘subversion’ that was unprecedented in terms of its breadth, intensity, and

in Destruction and human remains
Open Access (free)
The bodyand counter-revolutionary warfare inapartheid South Africa

offered instead a categorization of killings: judicial executions, assassinations, elimi­nation during arrest, enforced dis­appearances followed by elimination, ambushes, entrapment operations, killing of own forces.5 Apartheid legislation allowed for the killing of political suspects through judicial execution when found guilty of offences of terrorism, sabotage, or treason.6 Additionally, generous indemnity regulations protected police officers responsible for shooting ‘rioters’ in civil unrest.7 If apartheid is understood as a regime that relied on coercion with

in Destruction and human remains
Embodying the disappeared of the Argentinian dictatorship through law

­pressures. And all of this – these feelings of guilt and fear – occur in an already highly charged context where, in most cases, their previously unknown true origins are brutally revealed. Moreover, there is a kind of ricochet: the truth of the role played by the adoptive family in the disappearance of their own biological HRMV.indb 50 01/09/2014 17:28:35 The disappeared of the Argentinian dictatorship  51 parents and/or their complicity in state terrorism. On the other hand, the current juridical procedures also avoid the need to make these children responsible for

in Human remains and mass violence

instruments such as the famous ‘prod’, which were intended to deliver better results and inflict fewer marks, both on the bodies of political detainees and on public opinion.16 The contemporary chapter of mass political violence begins with the events of 1968 and definitively comes to the fore in 1973, with coups in the region (Brazil in 1964, Argentina in 1964 and 1975, Chile in 1973, and Uruguay in 1973) consolidating army hegemony over the forces of repression. This change also created a new territorial scope for ‘state terrorism’, an extension of The military

in Human remains and identification