Associated Press

October 10, 1997

'Dirty War' Officers To Be Arrested

MADRID, Spain (AP) -- A Spanish judge ordered a former Argentine naval officer jailed Friday after he admitted in court that he hurled people to their deaths from airplanes during Argentina's ``dirty war.''

Former Lt. Commander Adolfo Scilingo's admissions were made during four days of testimony this week before a judge investigating the disappearances of 600 Spaniards during Argentina's 1976-1983 war on leftists.

Judge Baltasar Garzon ordered Scilingo jailed without bail Friday on charges of genocide and terrorism, the state news agency EFE said. He was to be taken to Carabanchel Prison outside Madrid.

Garzon also will seek international arrest warrants for 10 other former high-ranking Argentine officers, including former Adm. Emilio Massera, the report said. Massera, a member of the Argentine junta at the time, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1987, but was pardoned by Argentine President Carlos Menem three years later.

Despite the arrest warrant, it was considered highly unlikely that Massera or any of the other former officers will ever appear in court in Spain.

Scilingo, who had come to Spain voluntarily to testify, was detained Tuesday without charges after he admitted throwing dissidents from airplanes. He testified Thursday that he participated in two flights in which 30 people were killed.

It was the first time a member of Argentina's security forces who participated in the killings provided details in court.

At least 9,000 suspected leftists were arrested, tortured and never seen again during the ``dirty war.''

National radio reported Friday that Scilingo gave Garzon a list of 150 high-ranking Argentine officials linked to the deaths and torture of leftist dissidents.

On Thursday, Scilingo said as many as 1,500 Argentine navy officials took party in the death flights.

No such probe has been held in Argentina. In 1990, Menem pardoned all middle- and senior-ranking officers of the dirty war-era, claiming they had no culpability.

Garzon's probe is backed by Spanish law, which allows the prosecution of genocide no matter where it is committed and regardless of the nationality of those accused. Garzon has also ordered the arrest of a former military leader of Argentina, but the government has refused to hand over key military personnel or help with the probe.