International Arrest Order Issued for Former Argentine Junta LeaderFor Immediate Release March 25, 1997 Derechos Human Rights (510) 528-7794 Contact: Michael Katz-Lacabe International Arrest Order Issued for Former Argentine Junta Leader Twenty-one years after a brutal dictatorship took control of Argentina, one of its leaders has been ordered arrested by a Spanish judge. Spanish Judge Baltazar Garzon yesterday issued an international arrest warrant for former Argentine General Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri. The warrant was issued for General Galtieri's role in the disappearances of a Spanish man and his two sons as Commander of the 2nd Army Corps when the military took power in 1976 and president of Argentina from December 1981 to June 1982. General Galtieri also played a role in initiating the ill-fated Falklands War against Britain. He was acquitted on charges of crimes against the Argentine people but served a short sentence for incompetency for leading Argentina into the Falklands War. The acquittal and subsequent shortened sentence for incompetency were a result of strong military pressure against any punishment of its members. In issuing the warrant, Garzon indicated that Galtieri's criminal responsibility for the disappearances arose from his position and duties. Garzon also indicated that he would not accept the defense that Galtieri did not know about the crimes against humanity that were committed by the Argentine military under his command. Derechos Human Rights, a California-based human rights group that has been cooperating in efforts to bring Galtieri and others to trial, welcomed the news. "We congratulate Judge Garzon for finally ending the impunity that had been granted by the Argentine government to General Galtieri and so many other human rights abusers," said Michael Katz- Lacabe, Executive Director of Derechos Human Rights. Katz-Lacabe added, "According to testimony before the Argentine Commission on Disappeared Persons (CONADEP), Galtieri, who was trained at the US Army School of the Americas in 1949, told a detainee that he had absolute power her and could decide if she lived or died. He spared her life because he said that she had the same name as his daughter." The warrant is the first of many expected to be issued by Garzon, who is investigating potential crimes against humanity charges against more than 100 other members of the Argentine military for disappearances of 300 Spanish nationals. The issuance of the warrant indicates that Garzon does not expect Galtieri to voluntarily present himself for trial. The Argentine government has stated that it will not cooperate with the investigation by Judge Garzon and a similar investigation under way in Italy. For Galtieri, this will have the effect of forcing him to never leave Argentina for fear of arrest. Former Navy Captain Alfredo Astiz has endured a similar fate after he was convicted in absentia in France of murdering French nuns Alice Domon and Leonie Duquet.
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