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Argentine Judge Refuses France's Extradition Request - 2003-09-21

An Argentine judge has refused to extradite to France a former military officer accused of killing two French nuns.

Navy captain Alfredo Astiz, known as the "Blond Angel of Death," was tried and convicted in absentia by a French court for the murder of nuns Alice Domon and Leonie Duquet, who disappeared in Argentina in 1977.

A judge in Buenos Aires said Mr. Astiz would remain in Argentina to face trial for other human rights offenses.

The ruling follows a decision in August to repeal immunity laws that for two decades protected members of the country's former military dictatorship against prosecution.

Astiz is said to be one of the most notorious agents for the dictatorship during the so-called "dirty war" against suspected leftists. He is suspected of using a Navy school as a torture center during military rule.

He was recently arrested in Argentina for possible trial in Spain over rights abuses committed under the dictatorship, but was released on September first, after Spain withdrew its extradition request.