The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has rejected an Argentine request to investigate the sinking of the cruiser General Belgrano in the 1982 Falklands Conflict with the loss of 323 crew.
The Human Rights judges said the application by relatives demanding compensation, Luisa Diamantina Romero de Ibanez and Roberto Guillermo Rojas, was inadmissible because it had been submitted too late.
It is more than 18 years since the 13,500-ton World War Two cruiser, which survived the Japanese air raid on the United States fleet in Pearl Harbour, was torpedoed by the British submarine Conqueror, on May 2nd, 1982, causing the greatest loss of life in a single incident during the Falklands Conflict.
The British Government argued that the sinking was justified in the circumstances. Lady Thatcher, who as Prime Minister at the time, authorised the attack, has made clear she will not be intimidated by any Argentine attempt to extradite her. She dismissed what she called "malicious and misleading nonsense" about the decision, which, she said, was taken for "strictly military not political reasons.... There was a clear military threat which could not be ignored".
The Argentine Navy withdrew and did not emerge from its home ports again to engage the British Task Force, which subsequently liberated the Falkland Islands.
Harold Briley, London