The Communist Party of Israel (CPI) has issued a statement calling for Israel to extradite Teodoro Aníbal Gauto to Argentina where he is wanted for crimes he allegedly committed during that country’s “Dirty War” waged by the military dictatorship against its own citizens from 1976 to 1983. This week Argentina’s internal security ministry offered the equivalent of $30,000 as a reward for information leading to the arrest of Gauto who is wanted for questioning on crimes against humanity — murder, torture and the abduction of minors.
But Gauto’s whereabouts are actually well known. He fled to Israel in 2003, and according to records of Israel’s Interior Ministry, the wanted fugitive is still living there under the alias of Yosef Carmel.
Gauto served as a civilian in Argentina’s military intelligence Battalion 601, which was notorious for its involvement in abductions and murders.
In 2003, Interpol issued an international arrest notice on a criminal matter (suspicion of bank fraud), which was in effect until 2009, when the statute of limitations expired on those allegations.
In 2011 a second Interpol “red notice” was issued for Gauto’s alleged role in the crimes of the military junta. Israel has continually ignored the warrant. In 2015, Gauto was exposed by journalist Shlomo Slutzky on Israel’s Channel 2 investigative program Mabat Sheni. In the program Gauto admitted having worked for the Argentine military. Slutzky, who had relatives that were abducted and murdered during the “dirty war,” petitioned the Israel’s Supreme Court to extradite Gauto to Argentina. The reporter argued that Gauto, who was granted Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return because his wife is Jewish, obtained that citizenship fraudulently because he did not disclose the investigations and pending legal proceedings against him in Argentina. As a result, Slutzky argued, Gauto’s citizenship should be revoked and he should be deported.
The state agreed that Gauto obtained his citizenship by deception, but decided against revoking it on grounds “that during his 14 years in Israel, Gauto/Carmel has committed no crimes.” This position is puzzling and conveys the distorted message that the Law of Return grants immunity to criminals.
According to CPI’s statement on the matter, “At a time when Argentina is confronting its past and putting the junta criminals on trial, Israel insists on protecting Gauto and ignoring the fact that his citizenship was obtained fraudulently. And this is happening while, at the same time, the State of Israel doesn’t hesitate to expel asylum seekers… The Supreme Court should insist that the state assist the investigation in Argentina in any way possible. Alternately, it should instruct the interior minister to launch proceedings to revoke Gauto’s citizenship, facilitating his extradition to Argentina for questioning on his role in the crimes of the military dictatorship.”
Next Monday, December 11, there will be a Supreme Court session on the demand to extradite Gauto to Argentina.