Roberto José Marquevich
Roberto José Marquevich (also known as Tito) is a former Federal Judge in San Isidro, Argentina. In 1991, he was appointed to the federal bench by former President Carlos Saúl Menem. Prior to that he had been a judge in a lower provincial court. In June 1993, Mercedes Minor's Court Judge Julio Manuel Cámpora issued an order requesting the intervention of Judge Marquevich after a lengthy investigation of The Family/Children of God that began with a December 1990 complaint by two U.S. citizens that four of their children had been retained by the cult and Stuart Harris Baylin. In August 1993, Judge Marquevich ordered police raids on Family Homes in Argentina. One of the primary objectives of the raids was to find two of the abducted children previously mentioned (the older two children were returned to their father and relatives in the United States in May 1993). Shortly after midnight on September 1, 1993, 10 Family Homes were raided in a carefully planned and coordinated police operation, involving more than 180 court officials, police officers and other personnel, dubbed "Operación Niños de Dios" (Operation "Children of God"). According to initial reports, more than 80 adults were arrested and 268 children were taken into protective custody. According to a 1993 book (La Familia - La Verdadera Historia de Los Niños de Dios, Buenos Aires: Editorial Planeta, 1993.) by cult expert and psychologist José María Baamonde, the actual number of children taken into protective custody was 143 and not 268 as initially reported; the confusion apparently resulted from the great number of passports found during the raids given that some children had multiple passports in different names (Baamonde 17).
On September 9, 1993, Judge Marquevich ordered the preventive detention of 18 adults and set bail at $5 million pesos each. In the meantime, the majority of the 80 adults arrested in the September 1st raids had already been released. Later, 3 additional persons were arrested and charged, bringing the total number to 21. The 21 defendants appealed their detention to the Federal Appeals Court of San Martin. In September 1993, Judge Marquevich also ordered the arrest of David Berg and Interpol issued a "Red Notice" to that effect. On December 13, 1993, by a 2-1 vote, the San Martin Court of Appeals issued a ruling favorable to the defendants in the Cavazza case. San Martin Appeals Court Judge Dr. Daniel Mario Rudi strongly disagreed with the majority in his 135-page dissenting opinion which quoted extensively from Family publications. The 21 charged were freed and the case was sent back to a lower court for further investigation. The court ruled that Marquevich and the federal court did not have jurisdiction. In their ruling, San Martin Appeals Court Judges Alberto Mansur and Horacio Enrique Prack used the Spanish word "incompetente" in ruling that Judge Marquevich did not have jurisdiction. The word has a specific legal meaning relating to jurisidiction and not professional competence. However, in Family publications, the organization used the word incorrectly and rejoiced that Marquevich had been found "incompetent" rather than correctly noting it was ruled that he lacked jurisdiction.
The case, including numerous appeals filed by both sides, continued for many years. In 1995, in a ruling favorable to the defendants, the Supreme Court of Argentina upheld the December 1993 decision of the San Martin appeals court. On April 21, 2005, family spokesperson Susan Claire Borowik stated that "the lower court did not review the case until 2004, at which time they granted final closure on July 27, 2004. (Causa No. 342.886, Juzgado en lo Criminal y Correctional de Transicion No.2) There are no current pending investigations or court cases in Argentina." To date, Borowik's claims and assertions regarding legal proceedings in Argentina against Family members have not been independently verified. In fact, a source close to the investigation notes that there still may be pending and unresolved charges, possibly including infractions of article 210bis of the Argentine Penal Code, in the Cavazza case and other cases in Argentina.
In June 2004, Judge Marquevich was impeached and removed from office. Family publications and press releases about Marquevich's career and legal problems imply that he was impeached because of his actions in the court cases against The Family in Argentina. In fact, the voluminous amount of information about this matter makes it clear that nothing could be further from the truth. Although there had been previous calls for an impeachment proceeding against him, the case that led to his impeachment stemmed from his December 17, 2002 order to arrest and jail Clarin owner and director Ernestina Herrera de Noble. In 1976, Mrs. Noble adopted two children whose biological parents had allgedly been "disappeared" (and quite likely tortured and murdered) during the "Dirty War" (against alleged subversives and political dissidents) period of Argentina's military dictatorship lasting from 1976 until 1984. After the "Dirty War" ended it was discovered that many children, possibly numbering in the thousands, of the "disappeared" had been kidnapped and illegitmately adopted by military officers and others. These adoptions of the children of the disappeared were accomplished through the use of phony birth certificates and other fraudulent documents. However, there were also some cases in which the adoptive parents did not know that the biological parents of the children they adopted had been tortured and murdered by the military. An organization known as the "Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo" conducted intensive investigations to identify and locate their abducted grandchildren and pressured the political and judicial system to resolve these cases. Subsequent legal reforms eliminated crimes relating to the abduction of these children from the amnesty protections offered to military officers who abducted, tortured, murdered and "disappeared" thousands of Argentines during the "Dirty War." In 1998, Judge Marquevich ordered the arrest and imprisonment of former Argentine dictator General Jorje Rafael Videla for the abduction of the children of the "disappeared." Judge Marquevich was also involved in many other cases involving the abducted children of the "disappeared" and, despite some criticisms that he was slow to act in resolving certain cases, the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo consider him a hero who helped restore the identity of many children of the "disappeared" and reunite them with their grandmothers and other surviving biological relatives. His courageous resolve to act firmly in these cases to protect the rights of children, parents and their surviving relatives earned him numerous politicallly powerful enemies and death threats.
The case of the adopted children of Ernestina Herrera de Noble was one that had been pressed for many years by the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo. That organization conducted a thorough investigation and conclusively determined that the children Mrs. Noble adopted had been kidnapped and that their 1976 adoption was rushed through the legal system with the help of corrupt public officials and fraudulent documents including birth certificates that listed their biological parents with the names of people who never existed. Prior to Marquevich's intervention in the case there had been prior unsuccessful attempts to resolve the case, reunite the children with their biological relatives and hold those responsible for their abduction legally accountable. Further complicating the case was a tangled web of relationships, alliances and political and personal vendettas involving politically powerful and wealthy individuals.
A federal appeals court later issued a ruling favorable to Mrs. Noble. In the ensuing scandal there were numerous accusations against and criticisms of Judge Marquevich which included calls for his impeachment. After his June 2004 impeachment and removal from office, he later encountered further legal problems. In October 2005, the Argentine newspaper Clarin (the same one owned by Ernestina Herrera de Noble) reported that he had been charged in a criminal court with 3 offenses: "illegitimate deprivation of liberty" (related to the "arbitrary" detention of Mrs. Noble), "ideological falsehood" (related to his impeachment case when he allegedly filed false statements with the court to the effect that he had not talked to the press about certain matters when in fact he had) and "violation of secrets by a public official" (stemming from allegations that he disclosed certain secret and confidential information to third parties). As of December 2005, the case is still open and pending. If the slow pace of the Argentine judicial system in other criminal cases is a reliable indicator, then it will undoubtedly take many years for the case to be finally resolved. However, if convicted of all three charges against him, Marquevich could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.
Statements by the Family about Judge Marquevich
Legal Cases and Related Documents
- Tribunal de Menores de Mercedes - Cause number 32.202
- Order of Judge Campora - Text and Preliminary English Translation (PDF) — 1993-06-28 – Judge Campora requests the intevention of Judge Marquevich.
- Case 81/89 Cavazza, Juan C. and others
- Order by Judge Marquevich — 1993-09-09 — Marquevich orders the preventive detention of 18 Family members. Later, three additional members are held under the same terms.
- New York Times: Argentines Say a Sex Cult Enslaved 268 Children — 1993-09-03
- Toronto Star: Metro woman in 'sex cult' probe — 1993-09-06
- Toronto Star: 33-year-old Metro woman linked to sex-for-salvation cult — 1993-09-06
- Houston Chronicle: Members of sect say they're being persecuted — 1993-09-07
- Toronto Star: Two Canadian cult members arrested in Argentina — 1993-09-07
- Toronto Star: Sect members face sex, abduction charges — 1993-09-08
- South China Morning Post: More accusations against Children of God — 1993-09-12
- Toronto Star: Couple held after bid to visit kids in custody — 1993-09-13
- Toronto Star: 'We've been totally and falsely accused' Family mom insists — 1993-09-15
- Clarin: Piden a Interpol la captura del reverendo que fundó la secta — 1993-09-15
- Hamilton Spectator: Cult woman's jail treatment 'atrocious' — 1993-09-17
- Macleans: Not a normal family — 1993-09-20
- Toronto Star: Tests disprove sect's family ties — 1993-09-21
- Columbus Dispatch: Woman says siblings are brainwashed cult victims — 1993-10-05
- Houston Chronicle: Children of God Cult Returns as The Family — 1993-10-10
- Christianity Today: Sex Abuse Charges Disputed — 1993-10-25
- Hamilton Spectator: Cult leader fears AIDS scare at jail — 1993-12-11
- Toronto Star: Argentine court frees Canadians in sex case — 1993-12-14
- Telemundo: Ocurrio Asi: Lo Mejor de lo Mejor (03:24, 9.6MB) — 1993-09
- Telemundo: Ocurrio Asi (26:43, 74.4MB) — 1993-09
Related Family Publications
- PERSECUTION JEWELS!--No.7! — DO 2899, 1993-10
- PERSECUTION JEWELS!--No.10! — DO 2907, 1993-12
- PERSECUTION JEWELS!--No.11! — DO 2908, 1993-12
- PERSECUTION JEWELS!--No.15! — DO 2935, 1994-04
- Falsely Accused and Jailed in Argentina — By Susan Claire Borowik, 1994.
- Amnesty International: Argentina - Justice must not be gagged — 1998-07-10
- 3 Puntos: La Noticia Menos Pensada — 1998-07
- BBC News: Argentina's missing babies — 1999-02-12
- Harvard Human Rights Journal: Righting Child Custody Wrongs: The Children of the "Disappeared" In Argentina — By Laura Oren, Spring 2001.
- Página 12: La dueña del diario Clarín, Ernestina Herrera de Noble, presa por sospechosa de quedarse con hijos de desaparecidos — 2002-12-18
- Cronica El Mundo: La señora y sus extraños herederos — 2002-12-22
- Clarin: Los párrafos más salientes del fallo — 2003-03-25
- Harvard Journal of Law and Gender: A Return To Life: The Right To Identity And The Right To Identify Argentina’s "Living Disappeared — by Lisa Avery, 2004.
- EL JUEZ FEDERAL DE SAN ISIDRO DR. MARQUEVICH SOLICITÓ LA DESIGNACION DE DEFENSORES OFICIALES EN EL PROCESO QUE SE LE ABRIO ANTE DICHO JURADO — 2004-02-11
- Marquevich perdió la silla por el caso Noble — 2004-06-09
- movingon.org: Judge Marquevich Impeached — 2004-06-29
- Clarin: Destituyen a Marquevich, con graves cargos y por amplia mayoría — 2005-06-09
- Clarin: Fue procesado por tres delitos el ex juez federal Marquevich — 2005-10-06
- myconclusion.com: To Daniel Roselle from Vas — 2005-05-02