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Spanish prosecutor charges Argentine naval officer with genocide

[JURIST] Spanish authorities have charged former Argentine naval officer Ricardo Miguel Cavallo [TrialWatch profile] with genocide for his involvement in the disappearance of hundreds of people during a 1976 Argentine military coup. Papers published Wednesday allege that between 20,000 and 30,000 people were forcibly kidnapped or "disappeared" following the takeover, including approximately 600 Spanish citizens. Just under 9,000 poeple were killed. Cavallo faces counts ranging from genocide, organized terrorism and crimes against humanity to murder. If convicted, he faces a prison term theoretically amounting to 17,000 years. The case is expected to go to trial later this year. In April 2005 a Spanish court convicted another former Argentine naval officer [JURIST report], Adolfo Scilingo, of crimes against humanity and sentenced him to 640 years in prison after finding him to have been aboard planes from which 30 people were thrown to their deaths during Argentina's military rule from 1976 to 1983. That case was the first in Spain under a new law that allows the country to prosecute for crimes committed in other countries under the principle of universal jurisdiction [Amnesty backgrounder], upheld in September by a ruling of Spain's Constitutional Court [official website]. Reuters has more.

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