Sun, Dec 21, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Argentina suspends release of ‘Blond Angel of Death’


Argentine legal authorities suspended a decision to release Alfredo Astiz, known as the “Blond Angel of Death” for a series of murders during the 1976 to 1983 military dictatorship, a day after a court ordered him freed, the official news agency Telam reported on Friday.

The announcement came barely two hours after the government said it would appeal the controversial decision to release Astiz — accused of involvement in the disappearance of two French nuns, a Swedish adolescent and scores of political dissidents during the dictatorship’s fight against leftist insurgents.

Astiz and other former military officers are scheduled for a hearing, but a court on Thursday ordered him released, along with another accused jailer and torturer, Jorge Acosta alias “The Tiger,” on the grounds they had been detained for two years without being formally charged.

Thursday’s court decision sparked outrage inside and outside Argentina.

An extraordinary appeal would be filed before the country’s Supreme Court “against the decision,” Human Rights Secretary Eduardo Duhalde told a news conference on Friday.

“If we can’t guarantee that they are tried [in Argentina] and that they don’t flee, the international community will act, without doubt,” Duhalde said.

Astiz, a former navy captain, worked at Buenos Aires’ Navy Mechanics School, an infamous center for torture and abuse, where some 5,000 people were taken and only a few hundred survived.

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