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Alfredo Ignacio Astiz

This case summary is being revised and will be updated soon

Court Federal Tribunal Nº 5 of Buenos Aires, Argentina
Case number 1270 y acumuladas (and higher)
Decision title Verdict
Decision date 26 October 2011
Categories Crimes against humanity
Keywords crimes against humanity, extradition, forced disappearance, illegal detention, torture
Other countries involved
  • France
  • Italy
  • Spain
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Procedural history

As early as 1985, Alfredo Astiz was the subject of extradition proceedings to France, for his role in the death of two French nuns, Alice Dumon and Léonie Duquet. However, no extradition agreement existed between the two countries (Argentina and France). In 1987, a trial started in Buenos Aires for the murder of the two nuns, but the Prosecution witnesses were all members of the Peronist organisation, Montoneros, and were considered biased. Alfredo Astiz was thus released for lack of evidence.

In 1989, France announced its intention to try Alfredo Astiz in absentia. His case was sent to the cour d’assise in Paris and in March 1990, Astiz was sentenced to life imprisonment for illegal arrest and detention with torture.

In 1997, Judge Baltazar Garzón requested the extradition to Spain of 45 Argentinean military officials, including Alfredo Astiz. However, a presidential decree at that time greatly restricted the extradition of such persons.

In July 2001, Italy and Sweden issued arrest warrants against Alfredo Astiz for, respectively, the disappearance of Angela Maria Aieta, Giovanni Pegoraro and his daughter Suzanna, and the detention of Dagmar Hagelin. These arrest warrants were rejected in the same year.

In 2003, the amnesty laws Obediencia debida (Due obedience) and Punto final (full-stop) were declared void by the Argentinean Supreme Court in the Simón case, opening the door for new proceedings against Alfredo Astiz. On 23 September 2003, a new extradition request to France was rejected, as proceedings could now occur in Argentina itself. In May 2006, Astiz was indicted with preventive detention in the Santa Cruz Church case, for which he was sentenced in France. On 18 August 2006, the Criminal Chamber of the Argentinean Corte de casación authorised the re-opening of the Hagelin case. More than two years after the incarceration of Alfredo Astiz, no verdict had yet been reached authorising his immediate release from custody. On 20 December 2008, the Argentinean Supreme Court was suspended the decision allowing his release.

In the meantime, proceedings against Alfredo Astiz and three other military officials, including Jorge “Tigre” Acosta, were held in Italy (Angela Aieta et al. case). On 14 March 2003, Astiz was convicted of illegal detention, torture and forced disappearance by the corte d’assise of Rome. On 24 April 2008, the corte d’assise d’appello confirmed this verdict, and sentenced Astiz to life imprisonment. On 26 February 2009, the Italian Corte suprema di cassazione confirmed this verdict.

See also: Corte d'assise di Roma, Public Prosecutor v. Acosta Jorge Eduardo, 14 March 2007; Ricorso di cassazioneAstiz Alfredo Ignacio v. La sentenza n.17 dalla 1° Corte d’assise d’appello di Roma del 24.4.08, 22 January 2009; Ricorso di cassazione: Memoria di parte civile, 20 February 2009

On 4 October 2011, a French extradition request was judged inadmissible by the Argentine Supreme court on the grounds that Astiz was already on trial in Argentina for crimes involving the same victims.

See also: Formula denuncia, 1 January 1998

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Legally relevant facts

Alfredo Astiz, alias Angel rubio (‘blond angel’), was an officer of the Argentinean Navy, within the Escuela de Suboficiales de Mecánica de la Armada (ESMA), the largest secret detention centre of Buenos Aires during the Argentinean military dictatorship. Astiz was in charge of an infiltration unit tracking “opponents” of the regime.

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Court's holding and analysis

Astiz was sentenced to life imprisonment by El Tribunal Oral Federal (Federal Tribunal) Nº 5 in Buenos Aires. He was found guilty on 13 accounts of murder aggravated by premeditation, 18 accounts of torture aggravated by the condition of political persecution of the victim, 18 accounts of aggravated unlawful deprivation of liberty and aggravated robbery.

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Related cases

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Additional materials

Human Rights Watch, 'Argentina: Decision Not To Extradite Astiz Condemned', 15 August 2001.

Argentina's 'Angel of Death' jailed for crimes against humanity, The Guardian, 27 October 2011.