Legal ruling in Argentina opens way to 'Dirty War' prosecutions

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The Independent US

Argentina's Supreme Court has ruled that laws granting amnesty for atrocities committed during the so-called Dirty War between 1976 and 1983 are unconstitutional, raising the possibility that hundreds of people could be brought to court to answer for alleged crimes.

Argentina's Supreme Court has ruled that laws granting amnesty for atrocities committed during the so-called Dirty War between 1976 and 1983 are unconstitutional, raising the possibility that hundreds of people could be brought to court to answer for alleged crimes.

The Supreme Court struck down, by a seven to one vote, with one abstention, legislation passed in 1986 that forbade charges related to Dirty War disappearances, torture and other crimes. Human rights groups say up to 30,000 people disappeared during Argentina's seven-year period of military rule, in a crackdown on leftist dissidents.

As many as 3,000 officers, about 300 of whom are still serving in the armed forces, could be called for questioning, according to human rights groups, which estimated that up to 400 could face new charges.

The ruling came in the case of Julio Simon, a former police officer who is accused of organising the disappearance of Jose Poblete and Gertrudis Hlaczik and of taking their daughter, Claudia Poblete, whom he is said to have then claimed as his own. Under Argentine law, the ruling serves as precedent in other cases involving atrocities during the period.

Hours before the verdict was delivered, the Defence Minister, Jose Pampuro, said there was concern in the armed forces about the possibility of reopening trials. "In a personal capacity, some men who might be involved in some situation are expressing worry," he said.

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