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Ricardo Miguel Cavallo is an Argentine who is, under the name Miguel Angel Cavallo and pseudonym "Serpico", alleged to have served as an officer of the National Reorganization Process, the military junta that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983, and to have committed crimes against civilians during the junta's "Dirty War". He disputes these claims, saying that he played no part in the junta, and that the allegations are a case of mistaken identity.[1]

Cavallo was indicted in Spain in September 2000 under the principle of universal jurisdiction by judge Baltasar Garzon, who had been conducting ongoing investigations into South American military dictatorships.[1] Since Cavallo was living in Mexico at the time, Spain requested his extradition later that month.[2] A Mexican court recommended in January 2001 that he be extradited, and foreign minister Jorge G. CastaƱeda decided in February 2001 that he would be, marking a significant change in Mexico's extradition policy.[3] Cavallo appealed the decision, which led to a lengthy series of court cases, culminating in a June 2003 decision of the Supreme Court of Mexico that he could be extradited on charges of genocide and terrorism, but not on charges of torture, for which a lower court had ruled the statute of limitations to have expired.[4][5] He was extradited later that month, marking the first time that a country had extradited an individual to another country for human rights crimes allegedly committed in a third.[6]

As Cavallo awaited trial in Spain, Argentina in 2003 repealed, and in 2005 definitively declared void, the Ley de Punto Final and Ley de Obediencia Debida, two laws that had previously given immunity to individuals alleged to have committed crimes during the "Dirty War". As a result, the National Court of Spain in December 2006 declared that since he could be tried in Argentine courts, which had priority, the Spanish courts lacked jurisdiction.[7][8] He was briefly released from jail when an extradition request from Argentina failed to arrive within the required 40 days, but was rearrested a day later after a request was faxed.[9] However, in July 2007, the Spanish Supreme Court ruled that Cavallo should stand trial in Madrid, as the case against him in Spanish courts was more advanced than that in Argentina.[10]

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