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ARGENTINA | 12-05-2020 17:51

Ex-Navy officer wanted for dictatorship crimes arrested in Brazil

Gonzalo Sánchez, 69, also known as "Chispa," taken into custody. He is suspected of participating in dozens of disappearances and killings, including that of journalist and writer Rodolfo Walsh in 1977.

Brazil's federal police agency says it has arrested a former Argentine Navy officer accused of dictatorship-era crimes, including crimes against humanity and kidnapping.

The federal police didn't release his identity, but a source with direct knowledge confirmed the man to be Gonzalo Sánchez, 69, also known as "Chispa."

He was caught Monday in the sleepy colonial city of Paraty, on Rio de Janeiro state's southern coast, and is suspected of forming part of a group that assassinated students, union members and opposition politicians, according to a federal police statement. Their bodies were thrown from planes on so-called "death flights."

Sánchez was previously arrested in 2013, and a judge ordered house arrest. In 2019, the Supreme Court authorised his extradition and he has since been in hiding.

He is suspected of participating in dozens of disappearances and killings, including that of journalist and writer Rodolfo Walsh in 1977.

The school where Sánchez worked was one of the biggest illegal detention centres during the brutal 1976-1983 military dictatorship. Sánchez has been on the run from Argentina's justice system since 2005.

Human rights groups estimate about 30,000 people were killed or forcibly disappeared during the dictatorship.

– AP

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