"Serpico" On Trial in Spain for Torture

by Roger Alford

As reported here, Ricardo Miguel Cavallo, a.k.a. “Serpico” or the “Angel of Death” can be tried in Spain for alleged torture committed over twenty-five years ago in Argentina. “The National Audience ruled that it has jurisdiction to try Cavallo for the crimes he allegedly committed under the Argentine dictatorship (1976-1983) …. This ruling gives Spanish courts universal jurisdiction to try crimes against humanity, no matter what the victims’ nationality.”

According to reports here, Judge Garzón has accused Cavallo of having participated in 227 kidnappings and acts of torture concerning 110 people, as well as in the kidnapping of 16 babies who had been removed from their mothers who were in prison.

It is increasingly clear that just as the United States is the world’s most important jurisdiction to litigate civil claims for human rights abuses, Spain is becoming the most important jurisdiction for the criminal prosecution of human rights abusers under a theory of universal jurisdiction.


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