Buenos Aires

'Pope innocent' of junta links says Supreme Court president

'Not suspected of complicity' during 1976-83 regime in Argentina

'Pope innocent' of junta links says Supreme Court president

Buenos Aires, March 18 - Argentine Supreme Court President Ricardo Lorenzetti said Monday that Pope Francis "is absolutely innocent" and was not suspected of being complicit in human rights violations committed during the 1976-83 military dictatorship there. Since the former archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elevated to the papacy on Wednesday, allegations have surfaced that he was complicit in violence carried out against left-wing activists and militants during his time as the Jesuit Provincial superior of Argentina. As many as 30,000 people are believed to have been killed or disappeared during the eight-year junta. In one particular case, accusers say then Jesuit superior Bergoglio allowed the military to kidnap two priests in his order whom he had dismissed just prior to their abduction. They were held and bound for several months before being drugged and dumped outside Buenos Aires. The Vatican has been quick to deny the allegations, and Francis has repeatedly disputed them over the years. In an autobiography Francis says he helped save several people during the dictatorship. "Apart from the fact that there are people who disagree, or who say he could have done one thing or another, the fact remains certain that there is not one concrete accusation" against him, said Lorenzetti in a radio interview. "We must respect the principle of innocence" with regard to "a man who has not been convicted of anything". The Supreme Court president is part of Argentina's official delegation in Rome to observe the inauguration of Francis's pontificate on Tuesday.

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