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The BBC's Matt Cole
"Checks were made as to his real identity"
 real 56k

Sunday, 27 August, 2000, 05:41 GMT 06:41 UK
Torture suspect faces extradition
Mr Cavallo: Alleged former agent
A Mexican judge has ordered that a former Argentine military officer, wanted in connection with human rights charges, should be detained pending extradition proceedings.

Miguel Angel Cavallo is accused by Spain of torturing and killing opponents of the Argentine military government in power between 1976 and 1983.

Mr Cavallo is alleged to have tortured and murdered political prisoners at Argentina's notorious Navy School of Mechanics.

Spain has 60 days to present documents backing the request for his extradition.

Mr Cavallo was arrested by Mexican police and Interpol on a plane in the southern Mexican city of Cancun on Thursday night.

The same man

Travelling under his real name, there were doubts as to whether he was actually Miguel Angel Cavallo - the name he used during his alleged time as an Argentinian agent.

Juan Ponce Edmonson
Juan Ponce Edmonson uncovered Cavallo's real identity
However, after interviewing Mr Cavallo and comparing his signature and photograph, police now believe they have now gathered enough evidence to prove his identity.

"His real name is Ricardo Miguel Cavallo, as Miguel Angel Cavallo was a fictitious name he used during the 'dirty war' in Argentina," explained the head of the Mexican branch of Interpol Juan Ponce Edmonson.

His arrest followed allegations published in a Mexican newspaper that Ricardo Miguel Cavallo - known in Mexico as a businessman - was in fact a notorious former Argentinian army officer.

Argentine marines
Cavallo says he is just a retired marine
Mr Cavallo denies that he is the former intelligence agent who ran the "slave labour" unit at the Navy School, and instead claims to be a retired member of the Argentine marines.

But Juan Gasparini, the journalist behind the expose piece published in Mexico's Reforma newspaper is not convinced.

"Cavallo won the nickname 'Serpico' for the effectiveness with which he did his work, he was quick to shoot," said the Swiss-based writer.

Mr Gasparini is well-acquainted with Mr Cavallo. Detained himself for 20 months at the Navy School, he says Mr Cavallo murdered his wife and a friend in Buenos Aires in 1977.

Behind the extradition case is Judge Baltasar Garzon, who initiated moves to extradite the former Chilean military ruler Augusto Pinochet on similar charges last year.

French authorities are also considering preparing a similar extradition request that Mr Cavallo be questioned in Mexico over the deaths of 15 French nationals during the same period.

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See also:

25 Aug 00 | Americas
Mexico boss held on torture charges
19 Aug 98 | Top features
The Living Disappeared
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