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Keker, Van Nest & Peters Secures Pro Bono Win on Behalf of Trelew Massacre Victims’ Families

Press Release

Miami, Florida, July 1, 2022—Today, a Miami jury found former Argentine naval officer Roberto Guillermo Bravo responsible for the extrajudicial killing of Eduardo Cappello, Rubén Bonet, and Ana María Villarreal de Santucho, and the torture and attempted extrajudicial killing of Alberto Camps in the 1972 Trelew Massacre. The jury awarded $24.25 million in damages, including $12 million in punitive damages, to the plaintiffs—family members of the four victims represented by Keker, Van Nest & Peters lawyers Ajay Krishan, Franco Muzzio, and Neha Sabharwal, the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA), and Markus/Moss PLLC, in collaboration with the Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS).

Over the course of the five-day trial, the jury heard evidence that showed that in the early hours of August 22, 1972, Bravo and other military officers woke up 19 sleeping prisoners, lined them up, and opened fire. They ruthlessly killed 16 prisoners and injured 3, leaving them for dead. Family members of the victims, eyewitnesses, and experts testified to the persecution that the plaintiffs and their families endured in the decades following the Massacre, the military’s coverup, and the Massacre’s impact on Argentine society.

“Thirty years ago, when enacting the Torture Victims Protection Act, the United States made a commitment not to give safe harbor to human rights abusers. Last Friday, seven Miami jurors fulfilled that commitment. This is an important victory for our clients and for many in Argentina who suffered under the Lanausse regime,” said Ajay Krishnan, Partner at Keker, Van Nest & Peters LLP. "We are very grateful for this verdict. This case was never about the money. It is about addressing a historic and heartbreaking injustice."

“We hope today’s verdict provides a measure of justice to our clients as well as to the activists, lawyers, and many others in Argentina who have fought so long and hard,” Claret Vargas, Senior Staff Attorney at CJA, said.

“The systemic persecution that followed the Trelew Massacre made it impossible for our clients to hold Bravo accountable for five decades,” said Franco Muzzio, an attorney at Keker, Van Nest & Peters LLP. “I’m proud to have finally delivered our clients the justice they deserve.”

“Today’s verdict shows that the United States is not a safe haven for human rights violators,” said Ela Matthews, Senior Staff Attorney at CJA. “The U.S. must facilitate Bravo’s extradition to Argentina and continue its support of Argentina’s pursuit of criminal accountability.”

The case is Camps v. Roberto Guillermo Bravo, 20-cv-24294, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.