France to extradite former Argentine police officer over ‘Dirty War’ crime allegations

Campaigners have long sought justice for Hernan Abriata.
Campaigners have long sought justice for Hernan Abriata. AFP Archive

France will extradite Argentine torture suspect Mario Sandoval to Buenos Aires on Sunday evening to face trial over the torture and disappearance of a student during the country's dictatorship, legal and airport sources said.


The 66-year-old former police officer was arrested Wednesday at his home near Paris, after French authorities gave the final go-ahead for his extradition, ending an eight-year legal battle.

He will sent back aboard an Air France flight from Paris to Buenos Aires, the sources said.

Sandoval has been living in France since 1985 and obtained French citizenship.

Sandoval is wanted over the alleged kidnapping in October 1976 of Hernan Abriata, an architecture student whose body has never been found, as well as a slew of other disappearances.

Argentinian authorities say investigators have several witness accounts linking Sandoval to Abriata's killing.

Sandoval's lawyers had argued that he would not be able to get a fair trial in Argentina and faced torture or poor detention conditions there.

But their appeals to the European Court of Human Rights to take up his case failed.

Abriata was detained at the notorious ESMA navy training school in Buenos Aires, where an estimated 5,000 people were held and tortured after the military coup of 1976 -- many of them thrown from planes into the sea or the Plata river.

Sandoval fled Argentina after the military junta fell.

Despite taking French nationality he can be extradited as the alleged crime took place beforehand. 

Argentina suspects that Sandoval took part in more than 500 cases of kidnappings, torture and murder during the 1976-83 dictatorship.


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