Argentina to extradite ‘Dirty War’ suspect from Brazil

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Argentina is to extradite a former naval officer implicated in dictatorship-era crimes following his arrest in Brazil, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.

Gonzalo Sanchez, who was arrested in Rio de Janeiro last week, is wanted for a raft of crimes committed during the military dictatorship’s “Dirty War” against opponents, including the murders of journalist and writer Rudolfo Walsh and a young Swedish woman, Dagmar Hagelin.

“The ministry of foreign affairs notified our embassy in Brasilia that it considers Gonzalo Sanchez a fugitive in judicial investigations into crimes committed within the scope of the Navy Mechanics School (ESMA),” a statement said.

The 69-year-old, who was also known as “Chispa,” was arrested last week in Rio de Janeiro.

Argentina suspects Sanchez of forming part of a group that participated in kidnappings, torture and murder at a time when some 30,000 were “disappeared” during the 1976-83 military dictatorship.

The fugitive served as a naval police officer in the notorious ESMA Naval Mechanics School, a feared torture center under the dictatorship.

Only a fraction of the estimated 5,000 regime opponents survived being sent there.

The bodies of Walsh and Hagelin, who was kidnapped in 1977, were never found.

During the Dirty War, ESMA commanders ordered so-called “death flights” in which prisoners were thrown alive into the Rio de la Plata.

A previous attempt by Argentine prosecutors to extradite Sanchez in 2017 failed.

More than a thousand members of the military regime have been convicted of crimes against humanity since 2003.