ROME (AP) — Italy’s top criminal court has confirmed the extradition of an Italian priest sought by Argentina on charges of murder and torture during its last military dictatorship, rejecting the priest’s appeal, a lawyer said Sunday.
Arturo Salerni, who represented Argentina in the case, told The Associated Press that the decision by Italy’s Court of Cassation in the case of the Rev. Franco Reverberi confirms a previous ruling by a Bologna appeal court and is now definitive.
Italian Justice Minister Carlo Nordio has now 45 days to issue a decree that requests the extradition of Reverberi, 86, who served as military chaplain during Argentina’s 1976-1983 military dictatorship.
“The battle for truth and justice that has been conducted primarily by the families of the victims of the terrible years of the Argentine dictatorship reached another important result,” Salerni said.
“This decision affirms a universal jurisdiction on the violations of human rights,” he added.
Reverberi currently lives in Sorbolo, a small town in Italy’s northern Emilia-Romagna region, where he was born.
The priest, who holds Italian citizenship, is wanted for trial in Argentina for charges including aiding and abetting the 1976 slaying of 22-year-old José Guillermo Berón and conspiring with the military in the torture of several other men. The alleged torture took place in the town of San Rafael, near Mendoza, Argentina.
Reverberi emigrated from Italy to Argentina when he was about 7 years old. He left Argentina in 2011 after the first trial for crimes against humanity carried out during the dictatorship took place in the western Mendoza province and the testimonies of survivors and family members began to point to his responsibility.
Human rights activists say as many as 30,000 people were killed or disappeared during Argentina’s military dictatorship.