Protest near Haifa Friday to Deport Teodoro Anibal Gauto to Argentina

Hadash (The Democratic Front for Peace and Equality – Communist Party of Israel) has reiterated 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.

In two days time, on Friday, July 16, beginning at 11:30, a group of Israeli human rights activists will hold an “escrache” in front of the Gauto’s house at Shivtei Israel 45 in Kyriat Bialik, north of Haifa, to demand his extradition to Buenos Aires. Escrache is a type of direct-action demonstration which involves publicly harassing public figures, usually by congregating around their homes, chanting and publicly shaming them. In Argentina the term was coined in 1995 by the human rights group HIJOS to condemn the genocides committed by members of the military junta.

"100,000 peso reward for anyone providing information leading to the arrest of Teodoro Aníbal GAUTO" who has been peacefully residing in Israel since 2003

“100,000 peso reward for anyone providing information leading to the arrest of Teodoro Aníbal GAUTO” who has been peacefully residing in Israel since 2003 (Footage: Shlomo Slutzky)

Gauto fled to Israel in 2003 and, according to records of Israel’s Interior Ministry, the wanted fugitive is still living in the country under the alias of Yosef Carmel. He 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 an uncle, Dr. Samuel Slutzky, who was abducted and murdered by Battalion 601 officers, petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court to extradite Gauto to Argentina. He 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 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 Slutzky, an Argentinian born journalist and documentalist, “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.”