German court issues arrest warrant for Argentine “Dirty War” junta leader

A German court in Nuremberg has issued an arrest warrant for Argentina’s former dictator Jorge Videla for helping to cover up the death of a German citizen in 1978, at the height of the “Dirty War.” The Bayern prosecutor reopened the case in December and requested an order of arrest for Videla after the remains of Rolf Stawowiok were identified through genetic testing in early 2009. The local Nuremberg court had closed the case in 2008 citing a lack of physical evidence as well as an Argentine court ruling declining to extradite Videla for the deaths of another two German citizens. Stawowiok’s remains were exhumed in 2004 and were found to have evidence of torture and bullets. Argentine authorities have said that Videla will remain in prison until he has served his prior sentence.

Videla has been in prison since 2008 while an investigation is underway for his role in the abduction of children born to political prisoners and forced disappearance victims during Argentina’s Dirty War. He is also under investigation for the deaths of 31 political prisoners. A court revoked the house arrest conditions he had been granted in 1998 when the investigation began. Previously, he had served five years from a life sentence for human rights violations committed during his term in power, until in 1990 he was pardoned by then-president Carlos Menem. In 2006, a federal judge ruled that the presidential pardon was unconstitutional. Italy has also requested Videla’s extradition to prosecute him for the deaths and forced disappearances of Italian citizens during the Dirty War. During the period Videla was head of the military junta (1976-1981), an estimated 90,000 civilians were killed or disappeared. (Jurist, Jan. 23)

See our last post on Argentina’s “Dirty War” legacy

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