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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 June, 2003, 13:56 GMT 14:56 UK
Cavallo case sets precedent

By Daniel Schweimler
BBC regional analyst

Argentine relatives of victims embrace as Cavallo is transported to Mexico City's international airport
Up to 30,000 people disappeared or were killed in the Dirty War

Relatives of the thousands of people who were tortured and killed during military rule in Argentina are watching Ricardo Cavallo's case very closely.

He is being questioned by the campaigning Spanish judge, Baltasar Garzon, who has long fought to bring those suspected of human rights abuses in Latin America to justice.

Mr Garzon was also behind the unsuccessful moves to try the former Chilean leader, Augusto Pinochet.

Ricardo Cavallo left Mexico on Saturday under a heavy armed guard, with Argentine protesters calling him a murderer and banging on the roof of the police car taking him to the airport.

Human rights activists said this is the first time one country has extradited a person to another country to stand trial for human rights crimes allegedly committed in a third.

Amnesty

The former army officer was arrested in Mexico three years ago, after a Mexican newspaper accused him of being a former intelligence officer.

They said he worked for the notorious School of Naval Mechanics in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, which served as a secret torture centre.

He denies the charges, but would probably not have stood trial in Argentina thanks to an amnesty for those who served during the military government, in power from 1976 to 1983.

Up to 30,000 people were killed or disappeared in the Argentine military's campaign in the 1970s against what it called left-wing insurgents, in what was called the Dirty War.

Many were tortured, drugged and thrown from aircraft into rivers and the sea.


SEE ALSO:
Argentine faces 'dirty war' trial
11 Jun 03  |  Americas
Mexico sanctions extradition
03 Feb 01  |  Americas
Spain requests Cavallo extradition
29 Sep 00  |  Americas
Argentine charged with genocide
01 Sep 00  |  Americas
Timeline: Argentina
26 May 03  |  Country profiles
Country profile: Argentina
27 May 03  |  Country profiles


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