BUENOS AIRES (AFP) — A former Argentine navy officer accused of human rights abuses during the country's "Dirty War" arrived here Monday extradited from Spain, and was arraigned on several charges including murder and torture.
Ricardo Cavallo, 56, alias "Serpico" and "Marcelo," is accused of being involved in the disappearance of many of the 5,000 people who were detained in the notorious Navy Mechanics School in Buenos Aires during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship.
More than 5,000 of the roughly 30,000 people who disappeared under the dictatorship passed through this detention center.
Cavallo faces charges of murder, illegal detention, torture, extortion, theft and falsifying documents, for which if found guilty he could be given a life sentence.
Handcuffed and wearing a bulletproof vest, Cavallo arrived under heavy police guard by Interpol officials at Ezeiza airport, south of Buenos Aires.
He was taken away in a car amid intense security to a courthouse in Buenos Aires where, in the presence of his lawyer Alfredo Solary, he was arraigned before judge Sergio Torres.
After hearing the charges, Cavallo declined to respond to the questions the judge and prosecutor Eduardo Taiano were planning to pose, a court official said.
Afterward, the judge ordered the suspect removed to the Marcos Paz prison in Buenos Aires province, where other military and police officials accused of human rights violations are also held, the official added.
Among other charges, Cavallo is accused of involvement in the deaths of journalist Rodolfo Walsh and of Azucena Villaflor, the founder of the rights group the Mothers of the Plaza of May.
He was originally arrested in Mexico in 2000 on a warrant by Spain's anti-terrorist judge Baltazar Garzon under the principle of "universal jurisdiction" in international law.
In 2003 Mexico extradited him to Spain, which accuses him of having participated in 227 disappearances, 10 kidnappings, 152 acts of bodily harm and 407 terrorist acts. Spanish prosecutores were asking he be sentenced to 13,000-17,000 years in jail.
But Argentina in 2006 asked for his extradition, and Spain agreed in February.
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