Scilingo, a landmark judgement

25 April 2005 by ARNAUD GRELLIER

On 19 April, the Spanish Supreme Court sentenced former Argentine naval captain Adolfo Scilingo to 640 years' imprisonment for crimes against humanity committed during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship. This landmark conviction of a foreign national for crimes committed outside Spain's borders endorses the Spanish government's new stance in favour of universal jurisdiction.

Scilingo was found guilty of causing the death of 30 people, who were drugged and thrown from aircraft into the Atlantic Ocean during two "death flights" organised by the regime. "This is without a doubt a historical judgement for a historical trial," the lawyer for the complainants Carlos Selpoy told Reuters. Scilingo's lawyer, Fernando Martinez Morata, has announced he will be appealing the judgement to the Supreme Court of Appeal. Under Spanish law, if the appeals court affirms the ruling, his client will only serve 30 years in prison. Prosecutor Dolorès Delgado had requested a sentence of 9,138 years.

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