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Argentina eases ban on revealing state secrets in Dirty War cases

Argentina eases ban on revealing state secrets in Dirty War cases

Argentina on Friday authorized officials to reveal state secrets if called to testify in human rights trials, a move intended to speed up prosecution of atrocities committed during the country's 1976-1983 military dictatorship.
In other developments, a federal judge probing right-wing death squads that operated during the chaotic, 20-month presidency of Isabel Peron issued a new warrant for her arrest in Spain.
President Nestor Kirchner's decree lifts the ban on former and current military, police and government officials from revealing state secrets in certain court cases.
Administration officials said the decree strips former officers and officials of any pretext for resisting testifying.
"This is a historic measure," Defense Minister Nilda Garre said at a news conference.
Encouraged by Kirchner, who took office in 2003, prosecutors and judges have reactivated hundreds of cases dating to a so-called "dirty war" waged by former dictators against leftist dissenters. Nearly 13,000 people are officially listed as dead or missing under the past dictatorship and human rights groups say the toll is more than twice that.
"This decision shows the commitment of President Kirchner in the fight against impunity in all its forms," Garre said.
Dirty War cases took on new life after Argentina's Supreme Court two years ago annulled 1980s amnesty laws. Those laws had shielded scores of former military and police agents allegedly allied with the junta.
Garre said Friday's decree covers the dictatorship period but could go back to the violent years preceding the 1976 military coup.
Right-wing death squads are blamed for sowing terror through hundreds of killings and kidnappings between 1973 and 1976.
Two Argentine judges are seeking to question former president Isabel Peron, who governed for 20 chaotic months in that era, about death-squad killings during her rule. Peron, who has lived in Spain since her 1981 exile, has been summoned into court in Spain and begun mounting a defense against extradition.
Peron was informed Thursday by Spain's National Court of a new arrest warrant summoning her for questioning.
Peron was arrested in Madrid on Jan. 12 at the request of an Argentine judge in connection with the disappearance of a Peronist party member in February 1976. She was freed after several hours of questioning but ordered to appear every two weeks at the court.
Fulfilling the condition Thursday, Peron was informed by Judge Juan del Olmo of another arrest warrant issued Jan. 16 in the probe of kidnappings and killings blamed on the Argentine Anti-communist Alliance, a shadowy paramilitary group known as the Triple A.
Peron, whose full name is Maria Estela Martinez de Peron, arrived at the Madrid court accompanied by police. She was released again under the same condition that she appear every two weeks, a court spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity, citing court rules.
Argentina is expected to file an extradition request to Spain in coming weeks.


Updated : 2021-04-17 22:59 GMT+08:00