BERLIN – A court in Nuremberg issued an international arrest warrant Friday for former Argentine dictator Jorge Videla in connection with the death of a German citizen at the hands of the military junta that ruled the South American country from 1976-1983.
Shelved in 2007 after the Argentine judiciary rejected a request for Gen. Videla’s extradition, the case was re-opened last year by German prosecutors in response to the discovery in Argentina of Thomas Stawowiok’s remains.
The 20-year-old Stawowiok, said to have ties to the Montoneros guerrilla group, disappeared on Feb. 21, 1978, after leaving the Argentine factory where he was then working as a chemist.
Stawowiok’s father traveled to Buenos Aires 18 months ago after learning that one of the two bodies found in August 2004 in a mass grave might be Thomas.
The Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, long involved in the search for victims of the junta’s “dirty war” against the left, used DNA samples from Desiderius Stawowiok, 84, to confirm that the body was that of his missing son.
Videla and another leader of the military regime, Adm. Emilio Massera, have already been convicted and sentenced in Germany for the killings of two other German citizens.
Argentina’s highest criminal court upheld last year a lower court ruling that pardons granted in 1990 to Videla, Massera and other members of the junta were unconstitutional.
The decision let stand the life sentences handed down to Videla and Massera, both now 84, for crimes against humanity.
Attorneys for the two men had challenged a 2007 federal court decision that voided the pardons granted to the former officers in 1990 by then-President Carlos Menem.
While Videla is in a military stockade and faces another trial for dirty-war crimes, Massera is serving his sentence under house arrest, a benefit most Latin American countries extend to elderly convicts.
The Argentine military regime is blamed for as many as 30,000 deaths. EFE