[JURIST] France’s highest appeals court on Wednesday overturned a lower court decision to seek the extradition of a former police officer to Argentina for alleged crimes against humanity during the country’s “dirty war.” The Cour de Cassation [official website, in French] ruled [Reuters report] that the case should be reexamined, sending it back for rehearing by an appeals court in Versailles after a May 2014 appeal by Mario Sandoval. The reversal was based on a statute of limitations related technicality, according to the appellant’s lawyer. The former officer was accused of committing crimes in the secret prison where he worked as a specialist. The government of Argentina has been seeking his extradition since 2012.
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] Bignone in March 2013 to life in prison for crimes against humanity. In February 2013 seven retired military officers were sentenced to life in prison [JURIST report] for various human rights abuses committed during the war. In December 2012 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 in 2012 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.