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French appeals court blocks Argentine torture suspect’s extradition

Former Argentine dictators Jorge Videla (L) and Reynaldo Bignone (R) on trial in 2012 for rights violations under their rule
Former Argentine dictators Jorge Videla (L) and Reynaldo Bignone (R) on trial in 2012 for rights violations under their rule Reuters/Enrique Marcarian

France’s top appeals court has ruled against extraditing a former Argentine police officer wanted for alleged torture, kidnapping and murder under the country’s military dictatorship in the 1970s.

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The Cour de Cassation overturned a decision by another court last year approving the extradition of Mario Alfredo Sandoval but it ordered the case against him to be reexamined.

Sandoval, who obtained French nationality in the 1980s, is wanted for the 1976 kidnapping of student Hernan Abriata, who was never seen again, and a number of other cases of opponents of the then-ruling junta who disappeared.

An international arrest warrant was issued for him in 2012 at Argentina's request for torture, kidnappings and murder.

Sandoval denies all the accusations, saying they are all fabricated.

The Argentine government’s lawyer, Sophie Thonon-Weisfred, said she was disappointed by the decision but welcomed the order to re-examine the case.

Abriata is believed to have been among the 5,000 or so people who vanished after being taken to a torture centre at the Naval Mechanical School, many being thrown out of airplanes into the Rio de la Plata.
 

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