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Ex-Argentine Officer Charged With Genocide

September 02, 2000|From Reuters

MADRID — Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon formally charged a former Argentine military officer Friday with genocide, terrorism and torture, kicking off the process of seeking his extradition to Spain from Mexico.

Ricardo Miguel Cavallo, alias Miguel Angel Cavallo, was arrested in Mexico last week on suspicion of falsifying documents and later was identified as wanted by Garzon for "dirty war" atrocities committed during Argentina's 1976-83 military rule.

Garzon charged Cavallo in a 196-page document that identified him as part of a core group of Argentine military leaders responsible for crimes that included kidnapping babies born to women held at a notorious detention center.

The charge names Cavallo as responsible for the torture, disappearance and execution of 21 people identified by name. It also links him to 227 disappearances plus 110 cases of torture in addition to the 16 babies snatched at birth.

Garzon gained international attention for attempting a similar process against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Pinochet escaped trial in Spain on health grounds this year.

Cavallo has said he is the victim of mistaken identity. At least 9,000 people in Argentina were detained and disappeared during the "dirty war" against leftist opponents of the dictatorship, according to an Argentine human rights report.

On Friday, a third witness told Garzon that the man arrested in Mexico--identified by photographs--was in fact their tormentor. Two others said so Thursday.

Argentine Cristina Barbara Muro said her husband, Carlos Alberto Chiappolini, was kidnapped and killed in 1977 on orders from Cavallo, who led a police raid on their home in Buenos Aires, the capital.

Spanish prosecutors have opposed Garzon, arguing that he lacks jurisdiction for crimes committed outside Spain.

But Garzon has pressed forward because some of the victims were Spanish, and he has been backed by fellow High Court justices.

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