August 06, 1997

Argentine general demands to see human rights file

BUENOS AIRES (Reuter) - A former leading member of Argentina's bloody 1976-1983 military junta has threatened to sue the government unless it allows him access to files on his alleged human rights abuses, a newspaper reported Sunday.

The Clarin printed a brief letter from former Gen. Carlos Suarez Mason to Under Secretary for Human Rights Alicia Perez saying he was ``reserving legal action'' if he was not allowed to see the files, which he said had been quoted in the media.

Suarez Mason fled Argentina after the return of democracy but was arrested by Interpol in San Francisco in 1988 and extradited to face charges of crimes including 39 murders, 430 kidnappings and 164 cases of torture. His trial had not concluded when he was released under an amnesty granted by President Carlos Menem to former junta leaders.

The government says about 10,000 people were secretly kidnapped and murdered by the military junta in its ``dirty war'' against leftist guerrillas, but human rights groups believe the real figure is three times higher.