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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Argentine Ex-Military Convict Escapes

Former Argentine army officer Alejandro Lawless became the third convicted military officer to escape from custody this year after he hijacked a police van outside of a Buenos Aires court building yesterday. Lawless, convicted in 2010 of crimes against humanity for his part in the kidnapping, torture, and murder of political opponents of the government between 1976 and 1983, made his escape while being transferred to court. Court security said Lawless took advantage of their momentary distraction while other prisoners were being taken from the van to the court-house. A number of officials have been fired as a result of the escape.

Jorge Olivera and Gustavo de Marchi, the two other escapees, broke out of a military hospital this summer. Neither has been recaptured. Estela de Carlotto, leader of the human rights organization Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, was puzzled by the rash of escapes. “Many prisoners are escaping lately. Something strange is happening.” Carlotto was particularly boggled by Lawless’ flight. “He is an elderly person, he doesn’t run much. I think there is complicity; he managed to escape so easy.”

João Goulart Exhumed

Former Brazilian President João Goulart’s corpse was exhumed today to clarify suspicions suggesting poison, rather than a heart attack, ended the life of the deposed leader. Goulart was ousted by a conservative military coup in 1964, and fled the country, first to Uruguay, where he worked as a farmer. Later, on the invitation of Argentine President Juan Peron, Goulart moved again to Mercedes, Argentina. He was found dead there three years later, nine months after a military junta had overthrown the government of Juan Peron’s widow, Isabel Peron. No post-mortem was ever performed, and the body was quietly transferred back to Brazil for burial.

In 2008, Folha de S. Paulo reported Uruguayan spy and drug smuggler Mario Neira Barreiro alleged that Goulart was poisoned by agents of the U.S.-backed Operation Condor, under which the military dictatorships that controlled South America in the 1970s and 1980s cooperated in the torture and disappearances of each others’ citizens. According to Neira, Goulart’s heart medication had been swapped with poisoned pills that caused a heart attack.

U.K. Citizen Faces Death Penalty for Meth Smuggling

Former United Kingdom police worker Andrea Waldeck is facing death by firing squad in Indonesia due to her conviction for drug smuggling. Waldeck was arrested in her hotel room in Surabaya, East Java, in earlier this year after admitting she smuggled three pounds of crystal methamphetamine into the country from China. She told a court in Surabaya that she had been coerced into the bringing the drugs, and asked for leniency. While Indonesia is known for its harsh anti-drug laws, death penalties have rarely been carried out. Still, according to the BBC’s Karishma Vaswani, “This year though the government has indicated that it plans to restart the execution of drug traffickers and at least one man has already been put to death.”

Same-Sex Marriage Legal in Hawaii

Hawaii’s Governor Neil Abercrombie signed a bill making the island state the 15th in the United States to legally recognize same-sex marriage. “In Hawaii, we believe in fairness, justice and human equality,” Gov. Abercrombie said Tuesday after the state Senate passed the gay marriage bill. “Today, we celebrate our diversity defining us rather than dividing us.”

A year ago, a mere six states and the District of Columbia recognized same-sex marriage, but the number has since more than doubled. Maine, Maryland, and Washington became the first to grant marriage rights to same-sex couples by popular vote, with the passage of ballot initiatives last November. Illinois is expected to become the 16th such state later this month. Meanwhile, Indiana is looking to bolster their current ban on same-sex marriages with a constitutional amendment, which has drawn significant opposition from the Republican mayor of Indianapolis.

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