Three former Ford Argentina execs charged for crimes against humanity

Four-decades after the fact, three former Ford execs are facing serious charges.

Three former Ford Argentina executives have been arrested for their role in a kidnapping and torture plot that took place following the country's military coup in 1976.

Factory director Pedro Muller, human resources chief Guillermo Galarraga and security manager Héctor Francisco Jesus Sibilla, all in their 80s, are facing charges of crimes against humanity for allegedly singling out union members for kidnap and torture.

According to their indictment, the three men handed out the names, ID numbers, pictures and home addresses of union representatives to Argentina's security forces. About two-dozen union reps were taken straight off the floor of Ford's plant in Buenos Aires and sent to military prisons where they were tortured.

The judge in the case cited an unusually close relationship between Ford and Gen. Ramon Camps. Camps was police chief of Buenos Aires during the late 1970s and early 1980s and ran a network of prison camps. At the time of his death in 1994, Camps had been convicted of 73 torture deaths.

One witness recalled HR head Galarraga discussing a pay issue with union leader Juan Carlos Amoroso. When Amoroso inquired about money missing from paychecks, Galarraga reportedly responded, "Amoroso, give my greetings to Camps.”

"I find it remarkable that the head of human resources at Ford would know information so sensitive such as the function that Camps would develop in the future, something almost impossible to know if the company didn't have a direct and concrete relationship with the military authorities who had overtaken the state institutions of that era," the judge wrote, according to the Associated Press.

Amoroso was kidnapped two days later and was beaten and interrogated as to the whereabouts of union leaders, the indictment stated.

Ford Argentina says it is aware of the case, but is not commenting at this time.

"Ford Argentina is not a party to the case but has always kept a collaborative and open attitude with authorities and will provide all available information that may be required to clarify this situation," the company said in a statement.

An investigation into the treatment of Ford workers was opened after the return to democracy in 1983, but a general amnesty kept the case from coming to light until about a decade ago. The investigation has been ongoing ever since.

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