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ARGENTINA | 12-01-2024 16:44

Italy blocks extradition of dictatorship-era priest to Argentina

Italian Minister Carlo Nordio ruled against Argentina’s extradition of Franco Reverberi on health grounds

Italy's justice minister has blocked the extradition of a priest sought by Buenos Aires for colluding with the country's bloody 1976-1983 military dictatorship, human rights advocates said Friday.

Minister Carlo Nordio ruled against extraditing Franco Reverberi on health grounds, reversing an earlier decision and overruling Italy's top criminal court, which had approved the extradition in October.

Reverberi, 85, a military chaplain in the western province of Mendoza in 1980, has been sought by the Argentine justice system since 2012, after he fled Argentina for Italy, taking up residence near Parma.

Interpol had also issued a warrant for his arrest.

"Justice delayed, justice denied, as they say. Don Reverberi will not have to answer to anyone," said Riccardo Noury, spokesman for Amnesty International Italy.

"After all this time, according to Minister Nordio, don Reverberi is in old age, his heart is weak, and the likelihood that he will never return to Italy would be a source of undue stress," he said.

Reverberi is charged with collusion for allegedly being part of a group which "illegally kidnapped political opponents, taking them to a secret place where they were tortured and one of them died," Arturo Salerni, a lawyer for Argentina, told AFP in August.

He is accused of "aiding and abetting a murder in San Rafael... and of conspiring with the military in San Rafael - he was a military chaplain - in a series of tortures," he said at the time.

An estimated 30,000 people disappeared during the military dictatorship, whose "Dirty War" against opponents unleashed a wave of kidnappings, torture, rapes and murder.

More than 1,000 people have now been convicted of crimes against humanity in Argentina related to the dictatorship since trials resumed in the mid-2000s, following more than a decade of amnesty laws and other controversial measures.

- TIMES/AFP

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