Cavallo Case

16/06/2003
Urgent Appeal

The
International Federation of Human Rights Leagues and its affiliated organizations in
Argentina (Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales, Comité de Accion Juridica, Liga
Argentina de Derechos Humanos) and in Mexico (Comision Mexicana de Defensa y
Promocion de los Derechos Humanos, LIMEDH) applauds the June 10, 2003 decision
rendered by the Mexican Supreme Court authorizing the extradition of Argentinean
national Ricardo Miguel Cavallo a.k.a "Serpico" to Spain for crimes of terrorism and
genocide.

This decision confirmed the decision made January 12, 2001 by Mexican Judge Jesus
Guadalupe Luna.
Cavallo was part of the "intelligence group" GT 33/2 of the ESMA, one of the most brutal
clandestine detention centers of the last Argentinean dictatorship (1976-1983). Cavallo
is accused of the disappearances of 248 persons and 128 kidnappings of whom 16 were
pregnant women who gave birth at the ESMA.
The Spanish judge’s request for extradition is based on the principle of universal
jurisdiction which allows for trials to be held regardless of the victim’s or defendant’s
nationality or the where the crime was committed. The Mexican government’s decision is
in compliance with its international obligation to either judge or extradite persons
accused of grave crimes.
As of date, the crimes Cavallo is accused of have gone unpunished in Argentina given
the amnesty laws "de punto final» and "de obediencia debida" which are currently being
challenged as anti-constitutional before the Argentina’s Supreme Court.
The decision to extradite Cavallo is historic for two main reasons. On the one hand, it
confirms the jurisdiction of the Spanish tribunals to prosecute Cavallo for alleged
genocide and terrorism. On the other hand, it is the first time that a person is being
extradited on the principle of universal jurisdiction.
However, our organizations are dismayed by the Mexican Supreme Court’s decision
rejecting charges of torture on the grounds that, under Mexican law, the statute of
limitations has expired.
By coming to this decision, the Mexican Supreme Court contradicts the 1984
International Convention Against Torture and the Convention on the Non-Applicability of
Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity, both of which are
ratified by Mexico.
Therefore, the Comité de Acción Jurídica (CAJ), Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales
(CELS), Liga Argentina de Derechos Humanos (LADH), Comisión Mexicana de Defensa
y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CMDPDH), LIMEDDH, and the International
Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) requests that the Mexican government
executes the Supreme Court’s decision by immediately extraditing Cavallo.

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