The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Saturday, August 30, 2003

Aznar stymies his extraterrorialist judges, apparently

I alluded in my August 13 piece on the case being brought in Spain by relatives of José Couso (victim of US shells at the Palestine Hotel) to another Spanish exercise in human rights extraterritorialism, this time in relation to alleged misdeeds of the junta era in Argentina.

The newish president of Argentina, the Care Bear Peronist Nestor Kirchner [1], has made the brave [2] decision of lifting the lid on the junta era, having amnesties annulled and the like. Tied up with his efforts in a way I'm hazy about, from not having kept across the issue, are the efforts of arch-extraterritorialist investigating judge Báltasar Garzón, which have resulted in the Argentinian courts agreeing to the extradition of around 40 suspects he had identified (including General Jorge Videla and Admiral Emilio Massera).

The procedure, however, seems to require the formal extradition request to come from the Spanish government. And Prime Minister José María Aznar, according to today's Guardian, has refused to make that request.

(My problem with the story is that this is the only report I can trace: nothing else on Google News or altheweb News. In particular, there does not seem to be confirmation in any Spanish news source.)

There was a piece yesterday in La Nación of Buenos Aires saying that, unless Spain made the formal request before midnight on Monday, the case would be out of time, and arrangements to free the detained men would be set in train. Clearly, at the time that piece was written, the decision from Aznar had yet to be made public.

Assuming there is no extradition, that is not the end of the arrested men's legal travails: the effect of the annulation of the amnesty laws (the so-called leyes de obediencia debida y de punto final) will be, it seems, that cases previously brought in the Argentinian against some or all of them will be revived.

It seems the sort of legal lottery fraught with considerable danger, not to mention unfairness (somewhat reminiscent of the post-Cold War cases brought against East German border guards for shooting escapers: establishing the rule of law by imposing retrospective criminal liability!) But that's an Argentinian affair, of course.

Still outstanding, last time I looked - on August 20, was the Couso case. Perhaps the Argentinian case shows how Aznar is planning to shield his Glorious Ally from the importunate Judge Garzón. We'll see.

  1. Who polled so well that old(er) line Peronist (they call themselves justicialistas these days) Carlos Menem threw in the towel in the run-off election.

  2. In the Sir Humphrey sense.

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