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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 July, 2003, 17:14 GMT 18:14 UK
Former Argentine officers held
Former navy chief Admiral Emilio
Former navy chief Admiral Emilio Massera is in the list
An Argentine judge has ordered the arrest of 46 people former officials wanted by Spain on charges of human rights abuses.

Forty-five are top former military officers - including former dictators Jorge Videla and Emilio Massera - and one is a civilian.

The arrests were made after an extradition request from the Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon earlier in the month.

Judge Garzon is investigating alleged crimes of genocide and torture against Spanish nationals in Argentina under the military junta between 1976 and 1983.

The decision comes a day after another Argentine judge released 10 army officers - arrested earlier in the month on suspicion of the massacre of 22 prisoners in 1976 - saying he did not have the jurisdiction to try them.

President Nestor Kirchner has promised to open the way for such prosecutions by repealing the amnesty laws that protected members of the old regime.

Pinochet

The arrest of the 46 Argentine officials comes after a similar extradition request was ignored by the Argentine Government three years ago.

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

Judge Baltasar Garzon
Garzon aims to be the nemesis of former Latin American strongmen
Judge Garzon has led the way in trying to bring those suspected of human rights violations in Latin America to justice.

He spearheaded the unsuccessful campaign to extradite former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet from London to Spain.

More recently he secured the extradition of former Argentine military officer, Ricardo Miguel Cavallo, from Mexico to Spain to face charges of genocide and terrorism.

No date has been set for his trial but it is expected to take place in 2004.




SEE ALSO:
Argentine suspects freed
23 Jul 03  |  Americas
Cavallo case sets precedent
29 Jun 03  |  Americas
Argentine faces 'dirty war' trial
11 Jun 03  |  Americas
Timeline: Argentina
26 May 03  |  Country profiles


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