Argentina seeks ex-navy officer in US

LAURA WIDES-MUNOZ, AP, March 6, 2008

MIAMI - A former Argentine navy lieutenant wanted for his alleged role in a 1972 massacre of 16 leftist guerrillas is now heading a medical personnel supply company that has contracts with the U.S. Defense Department.

A lawyer for Roberto Guillermo Bravo, 65, said Thursday his client denies the massacre charges and will fight extradition.

"Anything that he did while he was in the Argentinean military was done in a legal manner, and he was not involved in any execution-style killings," said attorney Neal Sonnett.

Bravo's Miami-based company, RGB Group Inc., places workers in positions in the health care and security industries. Its Web site lists numerous federal agencies as "satisfied clients,' including the Army, the Marines, the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Health and Human Services.

"The RGB Group is a company that the Defense Department does business with," Pentagon spokesman Chris Isleib said. "These are serious allegations, and we are taking a hard look at them."

Since last month, an Argentine federal judge has been seeking Bravo and two others on charges of torture, homicide, attempted homicide and illegal detentions in the so-called "Trelew Massacre."

Nineteen guerrillas were allegedly machine-gunned in their cells at a military base days after being recaptured following a prison break. Three prisoners survived the attack and reported the crime.

Four former Argentine naval officers suspected in the case were detained last month, including retired officer Carlos Marandino, who flew voluntarily from the United States to Argentina to surrender in the federal investigation.

Also captured recently was Luis Emilio Sosa, 73, accused of commanding the naval force that recaptured the guerrillas.

Argentina was marked in the 1970s by leftist guerrilla violence and counterattacks by military forces and death squads as a prelude to a 1976 military coup. Official records show nearly 13,000 people died or disappeared under the dictatorship. Human rights groups put the toll closer to 30,000.

Bravo came to the U.S. shortly after the incident as a military attache and later became an American citizen, Sonnett said. He said Bravo would be willing to answer questions from Argentine judicial officials if they travel to the U.S.

Associated Press Writer Oscar Serrat contributed to this report from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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