In the wake of the Belgrano Case at the European Court of Human Rights, journalists have focused attention on the background of two of the Argentine lawyers, detailing their activities in defence of human rights violations by the former Military regime.
British press reports say that the lawyer leading the campaign for action against the United Kingdom for the 1982 sinking of the General Belgrano, Jorge Antonio Olivera, belongs to a Buenos Aires law firm which has defended officers of the former Junta involved in widescale atrocities during the so-called "Dirty War" against their own people in the 1970s and 1980s. Human rights campaigners say that as many as 20-thousand Argentines and some foreign nationals disappeared in a campaign of kidnap , torture and murder.
A British newspaper says that the firm's clients have included a former Army Commander, General Carlos Guillermo Suarez, and a former police officer, Julio Hector Simon, both of whom face possible extradition for allegedly violating the rights of European citizens. Mr Olivera's partner, Jorge Humberto Appiani, is reported to have defended 18 former military commanders in 1997 against a Spanish extradition request over crimes against humanity, arguing at the International Court of Justice at the Hague that the case was a matter for the Argentine justice system.
Prosecutions were halted in Argentina under a general amnesty, except for cases involving adoption of children of victims of the Dirty War. Mr Olivera, as a former army officer, enjoys immunity from prosecution under the 1987 Amnesty Law. A recent newspaper interview quoted him as saying he was only 24 years old at the time and his activities then are "ancient history".
The British press report says the Argentine Commission for Relatives of Combatants Killed in the Malvinas apparently does not want to have anything to do with the two lawyers. It quotes a Commission member, Cesar Trejo, as saying the lawyers' firm has represented clients accused of some of the worst crimes in the country. The Commission is concerned that some people want to rehabilitate the disgraced Junta by creating "a moral equivalence" between the dictatorship and its enemies at home and abroad.
The European Court of Human Rights rejected the Argentine request to investigate the sinking of the Belgrano in the 1982 Falklands Conflict with the loss of 323 crew. The Human Rights judges said the application for relatives demanding compensation is inadmissible be
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