February 4, 2013

Scandal about future queen's father clouds ascension to Dutch throne

Jorge Zorreguieta, 85, is suspected in 'forced disappearances' during an Argentinian dictatorship.

By MICHAEL WARREN, The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Princess Maxima, Crown Prince Willem Alexander
click image to enlarge

Princess Maxima and Crown Prince Willem Alexander wave to well wishers from the balcony of Royal Palace Noordeinde in The Hague, Netherlands, last Sept. 18. The couple will ascend to the Dutch thrones in April, but Maxima’s father will not be present.

2012 File Photo/The Associated Press

Jorge Zorreguieta, Maria del Carmen Cerruti
click image to enlarge

Jorge Zorreguieta, left, father of Argentinean-born Princess Maxima Zorreguieta of the Netherlands, and his wife, Maria del Carmen Cerruti, attend the inauguration of the Rural Exhibition, an annual agricultural and livestock show, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1979. Lawyers in both the Netherlands and Argentina are trying to determine if Zorreguieta had any personal responsibility for forced disappearances during Argentina's "dirty war," when as many as 30,000 leftists, union members and other "subversives" were killed.

1979 File Photo/The Associated Press

AVOIDING 'CONTROVERSIES'

Zorreguieta wrote an open "letter to the people of the Netherlands" that was published in Argentina's La Nacion newspaper, saying he wouldn't go to his daughter's wedding because he wanted to avoid "controversies" that could hurt her future.

In the letter, he also listed 10 "truths" about his role in the dictatorship, claiming that "in the Agriculture Ministry there was no knowledge of the repression" and that "only after 1984, did the excesses committed during the repression become known."

These claims were immediately challenged in Argentina.

In the left-leaning newspaper Pagina12, journalist Miguel Bonasso wrote a blistering, point-by-point response, noting that Argentina's human rights violations were known around the world while Zorreguieta served the junta.

Bonasso also wrote that the Agriculture Ministry's workers had been seized by soldiers in tanks, and that when Argentina hosted the 1978 World Cup in a stadium just down the street from a clandestine terror center, members of the Dutch team met publicly with the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo to support their effort to find detainees.

Still, as his daughter prepares to be sworn in as queen, Zorreguieta has made no apologies for his past, said Baud, who directs the Centre for Latin American Research and Documentation in Amsterdam..

"What's remarkable is that since that moment, 12 years have passed, he's never made any excuse or any statement to the victims. He's sticking to his story. He has not in any way shown any remorse or second thoughts or whatever," Baud said.

FAMILIES WANT ANSWERS

Relatives of those killed by the junta still hope to see Zorreguieta forced to answer questions under oath.

"He should tell what he knows, apologize. I don't know if he'll do that, but it's time," said Alejandra Slutzky in a recent interview on Dutch television. Slutzky's family blames Zorreguieta for the 1977 torture death of her father, Dr. Samuel Slutzky.

Lawyers for the family had failed to indict Zorreguieta in Holland when an appellate court ruled in 2002 that the Netherlands had no jurisdiction over crimes against humanity committed in Argentina decades earlier. But the lawyers say that changed in December 2010 when an international treaty on forced disappearances went into effect and when Holland amended its international crimes law next year, giving prosecutors jurisdiction when suspects are on Dutch soil.

Dutch lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld, who represents Slutzky's family and other Argentine survivors, argues that Zorreguieta would be continuing to commit the crime of covering up a forced disappearance if he visits Holland and doesn't reveal what he knows.

"New evidence keeps coming to light that increases the plausibility that Zorreguieta was jointly responsible in forced disappearances," Zegveld said, while urging prosecutors to open a new investigation.

Zegveld cited the case of Alberto Daniel Golberg, one of about 800 employees forced out of the ministry's National Institute for Agricultural Technology as the military took over. Golberg has said he was arrested and tortured, then visited in jail by the institute's human resources chief, who had him sign a severance letter.

That couldn't have happened without Zorreguieta's knowledge, Zegveld said.

 

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)