Thursday, November 6, 2014

Argentine Judge Invokes Universal Jurisdiction in Arrest of Spanish Ex-Officials

La jueza (judge) María Romilda Servini de Cubría. (Photo/Foto: Cedoc)

BUENOS AIRES — A judge in Argentina has ordered the arrest of 20 former Spanish officials accused of torturing dissidents during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, from 1939 to 1975, renewing efforts to pursue cases of human rights abuses beyond the country’s borders.

The judge, María Romilda Servini de Cubría, said in her ruling late Friday night that she was invoking the principle of universal jurisdiction for human rights issues against the Spaniards, who include the former cabinet ministers José Utrera Molina, 88, and Rodolfo Martín Villa, 80.

The principle permits courts to investigate accusations of human rights abuses in foreign countries.

A Spanish judge, Baltasar Garzón, used the principle to indict an Argentine Navy captain who is now serving a prison sentence in Spain after he was convicted of human rights abuses in 2005. In the 1990s, Judge Garzón also tried to prosecute Augusto Pinochet, the former Chilean dictator.

Judge Servini de Cubría is seeking the former officials’ extradition to Argentina so she can question them about accusations of human rights abuses. Spaniards who claim they were victims of torture are seeking justice here because they were blocked by a 1977 amnesty law passed in Spain as a way to smooth the country’s return to democracy. They filed a lawsuit in Buenos Aires in 2010.

Excerpt, read Argentine Judge Orders Arrest of Spanish Ex-Officials

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