[JURIST] Spain's National Court on Friday said that it will drop its prosecution of former Argentine naval officer Ricardo Miguel Cavallo [TrialWatch profile; JURIST news archive] and extradite him back to his home country where he will stand trial for for his role in the disappearance of hundreds of people during a 1976 Argentine military coup. Cavallo has been in Spanish custody since 2003 when he was discovered to be living under an assumed name in Mexico City and subsequently transferred to the European country, where he was to be charged under Spain's universal jurisdiction laws [JURIST report]. He was formally charged with genocide [JURIST report], organized terrorism and crimes against humanity in January 2006. Spain's High Court ruled in December 2006 that it did not have jurisdiction [JURIST report] to try Cavallo, however, in July 2007 the Supreme Court overturned that decision [JURIST report] and found that the trial could continue. Nevertheless, the National Court declined to proceed after it determined that charges Cavallo would face in Argentina were similar to those he faced in Spain. AP has more.
Starting in 1976, Argentina's "dirty war" [Global Security backgrounder; JURIST news archive] was a seven-year campaign by the Argentine government against suspected dissidents. It is estimated that between 20,000 and 30,000 people were forcibly kidnapped or "disappeared" following the 1976 Argentine military coup, including approximately 600 Spanish citizens. Cavallo worked at a detention center in Buenos Aires, a prison infamous for its prisoner abuses and executions. Argentinean authorities have been aggressively pursuing former military commanders responsible for human rights violations since two laws providing amnesty for the former officers were struck down [JURIST report] in June 2005.