Extradition request for former naval officer
A former Argentine naval officer, Captain Alfredo Astiz, alleged to have been implicated in a number of murders during military rule between 1976 and 1983, has been arrested at Sweden's request in connection with the killing of a 17-year-old Swedish student, Dagmar Hagelin in Buenos Aires in 1977.
Captain Astiz, commander of Argentina's marines on South Georgia, surrendered to Captain Nick Barker of the Endurance and other officers of the British Task Force in one of the last actions of the Falklands War. Already accused of atrocities in Argentina, he was freed by the British as a prisoner of war under the Geneva Convention. Numerous attempts since then to have him and other more senior officers tried or extradited for their actions in the dirty war have failed. A major obstacle has been a general amnesty for acts of terrorism declared by the former Menem Government in an attempt to heal Argentina's divisions over mass kidnap, torture and murder by the military in which human rights organisations claim as many as thirty-thousand people disappeared. In the brief seven days of the interim government headed by President Rodriguez Saa before he quit, his Justice Minister, Alberto Zuppi, indicated the administration would help to bring to trial those accused of crimes against foreigners during military rule. But Saa assured armed forces chiefs privately that there would be no extradition. With Saa's resignation, these pledges no longer apply.The Swedish courts made their extradition request through Interpol, with a deadline of forty days for an Argentine judge to consider the case. Lawyers for Astiz have challenged his arrest and the extradition request. Astiz was also implicated in the disappearance of two French nuns, named Alice Dumon and Leonie Duquet, for which he was sentenced to life imprisonment in his absence by the French courts. An attempt to extradite him for the disappearance of several Italians was rejected by the De La Rua government since brought down in Argentina's economic crisis. Astiz is also wanted in Germany for the disappearance in Argentina of people of German nationality. Captain Astiz was known as the Blond Angel and also by his accusers as the Angel of Death. He infiltrated the human rights campaign group, the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, pretending to be their friend and wanting to help them. The Mothers and other human rights organisations have campaigned for years for information about the missing and for punishment of the military for crimes against humanity.