A former military officer from Argentina passed away due to natural causes in Berlin shortly before facing charges for the killings of 23 individuals associated with left-leaning groups during the nation’s military dictatorship.
According to Berlin prosecutors, a 75-year-old former navy officer is under suspicion for the kidnapping, vanishing, abuse, and killing of 23 individuals in 1976 and 1977.
The suspect’s name was not released, but the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), who aided the victims’ families in filing a case against the suspect, identified him as Luis Kyburg.
Approximately 30,000 individuals went missing during the military rule in Argentina, when the government aggressively targeted individuals believed to be left-wing political opponents in the 1970s and 80s.
Kyburg was purportedly the leader of a distinguished naval team suspected of causing the fatalities of a minimum of 150 individuals. In 2013, he fled to Berlin following the conviction of his colleagues in the military task force he was part of in Argentina.
For seven years, he lived peacefully in the capital until his presence was exposed by Bild newspaper. He held both Argentinian and German citizenship.
Following a thorough examination that included collaborating with authorities in Argentina, conducting interviews with multiple witnesses, and searching his residence in Berlin, an official accusation was submitted this month. However, it was subsequently revealed that the individual had passed away from natural causes in October, as stated by the Berlin prosecutors’ office.
Margarete Koppers, the attorney general of Berlin, expressed her sympathy for the families of the victims as the death of the accused brings an abrupt end to the ongoing efforts of both Argentine and German investigative authorities. This news is undoubtedly difficult and painful for the families after decades of pursuing justice.
Wolfgang Kaleck, the ECCHR’s general secretary, said it was regrettable that victims and their families were not able to see justice served, particularly as “there is a comprehensive and solid indictment from Berlin’s public prosecutor and most of Kyburg’s accomplices have been convicted by courts in Argentina”.
According to prosecutors, the victims were arrested and then brought to a naval base where they were subjected to torture, with the suspect’s awareness. Some were also transported to different places and later set free, only to be shot in prearranged confrontations.
According to prosecutors, the majority of victims died in “death flights” in which they were thrown out of planes.