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The Prosecutor v. Ricardo Miguel Cavallo

This case summary is being revised and will be updated soon

Court Tribunal Oral Federal Nº 5, Argentina
Case number 1298
Decision title Fallo completo (Complete judgment)
Decision date 26 October 2011
  • The Prosecutor
  • Ricardo Miguel Cavallo
Categories Crimes against humanity, Genocide, Human rights violations, Torture
Keywords jurisdiction (universal), terrorism, torture, crimes against humanity, extradition, immunities, judicial cooperation
Other countries involved
  • Argentina
  • Mexico
  • Spain
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Procedural history

In 1999, Judge Garzón – the Spanish judge from the Pinochet case – initiated legal proceedings against Ricardo Cavallo. (See: Juzgado central de instrucciones: Auto de procesamiento, 1 September 2000; Juzgado central de instrucciones: Pedido de extradición, 12 September 2000). 

He was subsequently indicted for genocide, terrorism and acts of torture. (See Auto de acusación de la fiscalía en la causa Nº761 (ESMA) (documento non oficial), 13 June 1996).

Cavallo was arrested in Mexico on 24 August 2000 and, in June 2003, the Mexican Supreme Court dealt with the issue of his extradition. The charges included terrorism and genocide. On 28 June 2003 Cavallo was extradited to Spain and on 11 January 2006, he was charged by the Spanish public prosecutor with genocide and terrorism. On 20 December 2006, the Spanish High Court (Audiencia nacional) decided that now that the Supreme Court of Argentina had held the amnesty laws, earlier preventing Cavallo’s prosecution in Argentina, unconstitutional, Argentinean courts were preferred to have jurisdiction. Such jurisdiction was being effectively enforced by Argentina as well. The Spanish High Court therefore declared it did not have jurisdiction and offered to transfer Cavallo to Argentina, even though Argentina had not yet requested his extradition.

However, on 18 July 2007, the Spanish Supreme Court overruled this decision and found that Ricardo Cavallo was to be tried in Spain.

In March 2008, Ricardo Cavallo was finally extradited to Argentina, with the agreement of Mexico, to be indicted in the ESMA case.

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Legally relevant facts

Ricardo Cavallo is a former Argentine Intelligence Officer who served in the notorious Escuela de Suboficiales de Mecánica de la Armada(ESMA), the most important secret detention centre in Buenos Aires, during the 1976-1983 junta.

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Court's holding and analysis

On the 26th October 2011 the Criminal Tribunal of Buenos Aires sentenced him to lifelong imprisonment. Cavallo was convicted for illegal deprivation of freedom on multiple counts, committed with violence and by a public official; for multiple counts of torture, multiple counts of premeditated homicide, aggravated by the premeditated assistance of two or more people and to ensure their impunity; and for the premeditated homicide and armed robbery of Rodolfo Jorge Walsh with assistance. 

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Related cases

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