December 8, 2013
From chileThursday, August 22, 2013
Judge implicated in military crimes to be extradited
Former Argentine judge Otilio Roque Romano will be extradited from Chile following a ruling issued yesterday by the neighbouring country’s Supreme Court, which quashed a petition made by the judge’s defence.
The Chilean daily La Tercera said the Court authorized Romano’s extradition by confirming what a lower court had ruled last June.
Romano fled to Chile in 2011 after he was suspended for his alleged connection with crimes against humanity committed during the last military dictatorship.
In June, Chilean Supreme Court Justice Sergio Muñoz had agreed to the extradition after the Argentine government filed a request to have him return to the country to undergo trial. Romano’s attorneys insisted on his innocence and appealed Muñoz’ decision arguing that President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s administration did not heed the principle of reciprocity when Chile asked to extradite Galvarino Apablaza, who is accused of murdering UDI senator Jaime Guzmán in that country.
Nonetheless, the Chilean high court confirmed what Muñoz had ruled. It dismissed the defence arguments and said that “the fact that the requesting country has at some point breached the reciprocity principle, has nothing to do with our country incurring in the violation of those legal rules.”
In this sense, the Chilean Court added that “there are obligations of superior rank undertaken by the Chilean state through international treaties the country has signed and that it is bound to respect. Its breaching entails international liability” and therefore “allegations raised by Romano’s defence were dismissed.”
According to the Chilean judiciary, there are grounds for suspicion that Romano was involved “in 34 forced disappearances, 26 cases of unlawful abductions, 36 cases of tortures, an illegal raid, and a case of denial of justice.”
Romano fled to Chile in August 2011 seeking political asylum in that country after he was about to be charged with crimes against humanity committed during the last military dictatorship (1976-1983), when he worked as federal prosecutor in the province of Mendoza.
In Argentina, Romano is accused of being a “primary participant” for the alleged complicity in 103 cases of human right violations by not investigating them thoroughly.
According to the Argentine judiciary, the case against Romano and other magistrates in Mendoza was built up based on a report filed by two people in April, 2010, alleging they failed to investigate “a pile of cases” linked to human rights violations between 1975 and 1983, when many forced disappearances took place.
Human rights organizations estimate 30,000 people were killed by the military government during the period known as the “Dirty War.”
As the case against Romano was gathering momentum in Argentina, the judge ran away to Chile.
Chilean authorities denied asylum in May 2012 and decided to keep Romano under house arrest in the city of Reñaca, a beach resort located in the Valparaíso region, 120 kilometres away from Santiago de Chile.
Herald staff with DyN