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Chile high court approves extradition of former Argentine judge

The Supreme Court of Chile on Wednesday approved the extradition of former Argentine judge, Otilio Romano, for human rights crimes. Romano fled to Chile two years ago to avoid trial for his alleged involvement in more than 100 crimes against humanity while working as a prosecutor during the 1976-1983 Argentine "Dirty War" [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Romano denies the charges against him, but the decision is final [La Capital report, in Spanish], and Romano will be deported in the coming days.

The "Dirty War" was a seven-year military dictatorship, during which an estimated 30,000 people, many government opponents as well as ordinary citizens, were "disappeared" and taken to government facilities to be tortured and eventually killed. A court in Buenos Aires sentenced [JURIST report] former military general Reynaldo Bignone [JURIST news archive] in March to life in prison for crimes against humanity. In February seven retired military officers were sentenced to life in prison [JURIST report] for various human rights abuses committed during the war. In December an Argentinian court sentenced former interior minister Jaime Smart to life in prison [JURIST report] for murder and detention of citizens. Smart was the first civilian minister to be convicted of crimes during the "Dirty War," but other civilians and police officers had been previously convicted. Two of Argentina's former dictators were also convicted last July of kidnapping children [JURIST report] during the war and sentenced to a total of 65 years in prison. One of the dictators, Jorge Rafeal Videla, had already been sentenced to life in prison [JURIST report] in 2010 for crimes against humanity during the war.

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