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Former military President Jorge Rafael Videla
Videla was charged with crimes against humanityImage: AP

Videla case

December 24, 2009

A German court has moved to reopen a probe into the involvement of Argentina's former military dictator Jorge Rafael Videla in the killing of a German national in the 1970s.


A court in the German city of Nuremberg says it will reopen a case into former Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla over the suspected murder of a German man in a 1976 military coup in the Latin American country.

Two and a half years ago, Nuremberg prosecutors called off an investigation of Videla's role in the disappearance of Rolf Stawowiok, when no physical traces of the German citizen could be found.

"We didn't have his body. We couldn't be sure that Stawowiok had fallen victim to a homicide," said Thomas Koch, a spokesman for the Nuremberg court.

Stawowiok's remains, however, have recently been discovered in Argentina and bear signs that he had been shot. Koch said a warrant has now been requested for Videla's arrest.

Argentina refused a German request to extradite Videla in 2007, not long after a state pardon of the former dictator was revoked by the country's supreme court.

Videla had served five years of a life sentence for a spate of murders, kidnappings and torture, among other crimes, when in 1990 the then Argentine president Carlos Menem issued the state pardon.

In 2006 however a judge ruled the pardon to be unconstitutional, and the following year a federal court reinstated his human-rights abuse convictions. The now 84-year-old Videla, who ruled from 1976 to 1981, is currently being held at a military prison.

It is estimated that up to 30,000 people disappeared under his reign. Most are believed murdered.


Editor: Jennifer Abramsohn

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