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Tuesday, 16 April, 2002, 06:48 GMT 07:48 UK
Hacking 'legal' in Argentina
Man at computer terminal
Another judge could yet rule differently on the case
test hello test
By Lourdes Heredia
BBC correspondent in Buenos Aires

An Argentine judge has ruled that hacking is legal by default in the country, arguing that the law covers crimes against people, things and animals, but not cyberspace.

Former Argentine President Carlos Menem
Hackers protested the death of a journalist whose murder was linked to an associate of Menem

It is the first case against computer hacking in Argentina.

The judge gave his decision after presiding over the case of a group of people that broke into the Supreme Court's website.

Argentine law does not protect a website, so hacking into it cannot be illegal, he said, declaring those on trial innocent of the charges that they broke into the site.

'Legal void'

However, in the ruling, the judge warned of a "serious legal void" in the prosecution of digital crimes.

And in Argentina, courts rulings do not set legal precedents, therefore another judge could rule differently in a new case.

The group, known as the X-Team, modified the high court website in 1998, accusing the judges of covering up the murder of the prominent journalist Jose Luis Cabezas.

Cabezas' bullet-ridden, charred body was found in his car in 1997 after he posted pictures of businessman Alfredo Yabran.

Yabran was alleged by some to have been corrupt and was linked to former Argentine President Carlos Menem. He committed suicide after a judge ordered his arrest.

The death of the journalist, which happened during Mr Menem's government, provoked several protests against impunity and corruption among the Argentine elite.

See also:

12 Oct 01 | Sci/Tech
Bringing rural Argentina online
22 Dec 01 | Sci/Tech
Hacker boys from Brazil
28 Sep 01 | Sci/Tech
Hackers 'branded as terrorists'
17 Sep 01 | Sci/Tech
FBI warns of surge in hacking
31 Jul 01 | Sci/Tech
Hackers to the honey
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